Sierra Leone News posts
As we come to another year end I am very conscious that next year will be the twentieth year of working for children in Sierra Leone. That alone is a testament to the commitment you have all shown as supporters and a real achievement to still be there and still helping children. Thank you for all your support in 2023.
Even though it may seem as though it’s been a quiet year, we have had ongoing success in areas with steady support over the year for about 45 children at any one time, we have got an office built at Grafton, we have started work on a new access road to the home (a post purchase rearrangement). Thanks to a supporter’s generosity we are now building a new toilet block for the boys which was urgently needed after we realised the original one had structural issues. In the last few weeks we have been informed that the national water company is laying pipes very close to our property so we can finally access a permanent water supply.
Justina has recently married and is now Mrs Sheriff. He is the IT and communications manager for the government education department. He is very impressed by St George and already introducing a communications systems for the staff to use, plus planning to launch a campaign for support in the USA where he has spent much of his life. So that is very exciting on more than the personal level, but we wish Justina and Ibrahim every happiness.
Unfortunately all the good things have been overshadowed though. The tragic and unnecessary death of one of our young boys a few weeks ago upset everyone… Idrissa:
Some of you may be aware that there was an attempted coup in Freetown with gunfire across parts of the city in the early hours of November 26th. It failed, but the government announced an immediate national curfew while they dealt with the incident. By terrible bad luck, Idrissa was taken ill the same weekend and the curfew delayed his journey to hospital by over 24 hours. By the time the staff was able to get him admitted he had seriously deteriorated and died the following day from infection. Understandably shaken staff took no chances when other children started feeling unwell and the following week we took 12 children to hospital for check-ups - two were in fact admitted briefly but now all have recovered and all back at the centre. A very sad thing made worse by the fact that it may well have been so different had we been able to move him when he needed it.
On to formalities.
The AGM this year will be held on Zoom again at 10.00am on Saturday 20th January. Holding online will mean Justina and the children at the Centre should be able to join us. We will report in more detail at the AGM, but just to let you know now, we will look at work that has been carried out in 2023 at the Centre including, fencing the land, providing security,repairing and maintaining the solar power, building new guest accommodation and building the much more robust toilet block.
Funds have been severely depleted in recent months, so any contribution would be most gratefully received.
The trustees join me in wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year.
Recent news - December 2023
Since purchasing the Centre and land next door, work has continued on the site, completing the offices and subsequently providing guest accommodation.
In recent months, work has been carried out fencing off the land and ensuring good security is provided, along with maintenance to the Solar energy, roof repairs and new water pump.
We are also now rebuilding the toilet block with grateful thanks to a supporter for providing the funds.
We are hoping to hold our AGM on Saturday 20 th January 2024 at 10.00am online, but will confirm soon.
St George's Day Letter
As always – thank you to all of you that keep on supporting the work for children in Sierra Leone. Once again our latest accounts show our UK costs very low and at less than 1% (the average charity spread measured in 2019 was between 13% and 73%).
As you may be aware, we have been working with children’s charity, Toybox for a few years (directly supporting education for children in the streets), and they have been very supportive of our work and are currently carrying out an audit of our finances and systems.
Our AGM was held on line again this year and thank you to all who attended. We realise that Saturday morning is not a free time for many people, so for those that didn’t make it below is a brief summary. We were joined online by Justina in Freetown, and heard from some of the children again, which was great (links below of what some of them they had to say).
The 2022 accounts are on the website here… but the highlights are:
- Income up at £102k – thanks to our most generous supporters.
- Centre and land purchase at $70k plus tax and legal fees. Exchange rate $1.36 to £1
- UK expenses less than 1% of our income
- Some money loaned to us and being repaid over 5 years
- £40k of funds, with £13k of this in restricted funds, being sponsored education £5,918, ‘next door land’ £5,090 and Duke medical (see more below) £2,531.
With a much-improved exchange rate, we plan to increase the number of children rescued and brought to the Centre to 50 (from 40 this year).We would like to keep increasing the children at the Centre, if we can afford it.
The offices at the Centre have been completed this year see pictures here.
We need now to build the visitor accommodation (approx. £2,500) – very important for guests to be able to stay.
We need to put in our own drive, past the well (£800).
We also need to secure the premises with fencing and importantly, cameras, lights, alarms and good signage (£3,000).
As an environmentally friendly way of securing our property boundaries we are planting a mixed hedge as opposed to building a wall or permanent fencing. We really do have to secure the boundary. There is a huge amount of pressure for access to land for housing as the entire area around us transforms from rural tranquillity to suburban town. The valley used to be full of virgin rainforest, but its almost all gone over the past few years- It is quite likely we will have the only trees left in the valley on our property soon and if you look at the photos of the new office buildings, we did not remove the trees but worked around them.
On that point about being environmentally aware, we would like to promote the environment in Sierra Leone. We plan to educate the children of Sierra Leone about the environment to help the next generation understand their environment and the coming climate change. The local situation is awful with minimal understanding on the main issues with beaches clogged with plastic waste, a devastating crash in fish populations and uncontrolled waste disposal as well as exhaust fumes that are choking. It will be quite a project and we will be approaching organisations to fund it.
In order to do this, we need to change our charitable objects, so we propose changing to the attached, widening paragraph 1 and adding paragraph 2 (proposed changes in red). However, we would like to assure you that all our usual (and unrestricted) income will only be applied to our core activity of rescuing street children in Sierra Leone. Environmental matters or anything else will be the subject of special fund raises with income treated as restricted to the purpose of the fund raise.
If you have any concerns about the change, please let us know.
The Rescued Children
We had a catch up about past children, with whom we are still in touch and encouraging them. We mentioned that we currently know of 11 at university,3 having become church ministers, and others that we are aware of now living and working in Dubai, USA and Liberia.
We shared some films of children telling us what they are now up to since leaving (shared in the links above).
On Duke there is an update, and he is currently well, living an almost normal life, but frustratingly, still not had his major surgery, and still waiting for this. On the very positive side, and much thanks to a nurse at the hospital he attends, coming forward with information, we have now traced and reunited him with his family. They had felt they had no choice but to abandon him when their money ran out. We are remaining in close contact and continue to cover his medical expenses and oversee his care.
Ona very sad note, we informed the meeting of the sudden death of Abdul Sesay another past boy (through illness). At just 19 years old he had been studying at bible college and was a hard-working sensible young man.
As always, (over the past 19 years) we continue to rescue street children and care for them at the Centre, and we will have to think about marking next year when we will achieved 20 years of this work!
Many thanks for your continued support as always, and very best wishes for 2023.
Philip and the Trustees
New office building
Happy New Year & AGM
Thank you to all who have supported us in 2022. We have completed the purchase of the ‘next door land’ (in addition to the Grafton Centre in 2021), built the ground floor offices at the Centre and taken in another 40 street children. None of this could have been achieved without the generosity of our supporters.
We have decided to once again hold the AGM on Zoom so that the many supporters at distance can join us, including the children and staff at the Centre in Sierra Leone. This will be held at 10.00am on Saturday 21 January and will include the financial report for last year (to 31 March 2022) and an update as to our progress and what we are hoping to achieve in 2023. If you would like to join us then, please let us know.
We wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year.
Philip and the Trustees
Sierra Leone: Civil unrest
Update from our children's home in Sierra Leone:
There has been a strikes over prices for the past week. Yesterday it turned very ugly and violent. There are bands of marauding thugs everywhere and they were at Grafton shooting. Police and army are on the street trying to restore order but gun battles going on all around us and nationally.
Justina is keeping all the children in the house and lying on the floor. Planning what we do in worst case scenario.
Sadly one child is dead from gunshots, but was not in the center at the time.
It is ongoing situation.
I know a lot of you have been greatly concerned and often we have had questions about how Duke is getting.
We have news of his operation.
As you know he suffered terrible burns to his bottom and has not been able to go to the toilet naturally since before we got involved. He did suffer a period of very unstable health at the beginning but our local team have done a very professional job getting him help and making him feel safe and welcome. He has greatly improved in health and spirit since we have cared for him and has learned to use a colostomy bag quite successfully.
On Wednesday (8th December) he will undergo an operation to restore the use of his back passage. This will involve cutting through the scars to open him up again and a skin graft in the immediate area. After which the expectation is that he will be able to stop using the colostomy bag and go to the toilet naturally.
He will still have another skin graft operation at a later date to deal with the large scars on his buttocks where he still has a serious problem but this operation now should restore his functions.
Of course we will update you on how the operation went and we expect many of you will have him in your thoughts and prayers on the day and as he recovers.
Land purchased completed
Great news to share and that is that we have managed to complete the purchase of the entire plot that we wanted for the St George Foundation centre. A huge thank you for the all the donations and I do have to say a very special thank you to some who were super generous. The stability gained really does change the prospects for St George in the future and owning a site with a secure water supply is so valuable and we can get on with our own plans as we choose. See this video for some drone footage of the site:
One of the things we have chosen to do is move the local office from the city onto the same site as the home and have everything in one place so the work has started to convert the guest block/store room into an office with new guest accommodation being built above it (hint there – we really would like supporters to visit when completed). The whole conversion is relatively inexpensive at around £5000 so we will have to raise that but hopefully if people can visit and stay on site it will repay itself quite quickly.
Purchase costs raised
One supporter who has made it out there is showing commitment! Back in the UK and helping raise funds - our friend Abid Gangat is doing a 100 mile bike ride very soon to raise funds. Please do visit his link to see a bit more and encourage him? https://www.justgiving.com/
Good luck Abid!
Land purchase fundraising complete!
We have all the money to buy the 'next door land' to the centre, including money for tax and legal fees. Thank you so much to all who have donated towards this appeal.
We hope to complete the purchase within the next month.
Purchase of St George centre land
We have made a great effort this year to purchase the site at Grafton. This has now happened and we are in the process of purchasing the adjoining bit that goes down to the river.
Thank you all for your help with this! We thought you might like to see what we bought.
Below is a little film of the site that was created using a drone - this is even fascinating for us to see it from this view point! You can clearly see all our buildings and the playing field in front that leads down to the road.
Just for information we are looking at the group of rectangular buildings that the film focuses on and the building behind the trees belong to the Scouts.
Fundraising to purchase centre land
The Grafton site and our centre now belongs to St George Foundation! This is a huge step forward for us as an organisation that will bring a level of stability for future years and we would very much like to say a very sincere thank you for all of your support and to those particularly who have helped fund that purchase.
We have now turned our attention to securing the other part of the site and plan to bring that into use for an environmental project which is going to become an ever increasing area of concern for Sierra Leone and the children we are working with. Much more details to come on that though.
The cost is a further $35,000 (£26,000) and we have now have only £3,000 left to raise! Loans or donations will be very welcome. Any loans will be repaid within 5 years.
Purchase of centre funding update
We are delighted to announce that this week we completed the purchase process of the Grafton site and it now belongs to St George Foundation. It is a huge step forward for us as an organisation that will bring a level of stability for future years and we would very much like to say a very sincere thank you for all of your support and to those particularly who have helped fund that purchase.
We are now going to turn our attention to securing the other part of the site and plan to bring that into use for an environmental project which is going to become an ever increasing area of concern for Sierra Leone and the children we are working with. Much more details to come on that though.
The cost is a further $35,000 (£26,000) and we have now have only £9,000 left to raise! Loans or donations will be very welcome. Any loans will be repaid within 5 years.
Grafton Site purchase update - October 2021
Thank you to our supporters for your continuing donations and support.
With your help we have purchased the Centre and land for $35,000, and would now like to purchase the next-door site. This will ensure we do not have developments on our boundary, and will allow much easier access to our Well. The cost is a further $35,000, but we expect to be able to raise about $10,000 of this sum in Sierra Leone.
Loans or donations will be very welcome. Any loans will be repaid within 5 years.
St George July-August 2021 update
Family Tracing and Reunification
Over the summer we are pleased to say that we have traced and reunified 20 children with their families. That’s 11 girls and 9 boys back where they should be And the parents very happy to have their children back!
Provide life skills and psychosocial first aid to children at the ICC As always we hope that a stay at St George Foundation gives skills to children that help with their ongoing lives. This is wide ranging from oral and body hygiene to cultural dance, drama and singing. Singing and dancing have always been a core part of what we do and great activities that can involve all the children and get them all joining in. Story telling is also a skill the children will learn and without modern day distractions the other children listen with real interest and enthusiasm and we hold competitions with this too.
Follow up visit on UK Sponsored Children
Over the August holiday we have been monitoring sponsored children. A total of 40 boys and 21 girls we followed up in mostly village locations. This involved not only the children but their care givers and the local schools they attend. The vast majority of children were successfully contacted and it was clear that we do need to keep supporting these children to go to school.Many were feeling the pressure of additional school charges, text books and food. Most have the children are performing well and some children have moved onto technical learning of trades which is encouraging.
As you mostly know we work with another charity Toybox on certain projects and in particular street work. One of those joint projects is to work with children in the Mabella community and they appreciated our efforts so much that a group for people from Mabella came to the Scout Camp and presented us with an award. They were recognizing the work we had done in their community to get hundreds of children back to school (who were not attending and on the edge of being street children) and also establishing a savings and loan scheme for local families.
Over the summer months for us it’s the rainy season in Sierra Leone and a time when people are more prone to being ill. Over July and August we 8 children and 7 members of staff that needed hospital attention. Five children were suffering from fevers caused by heavy colds, two with malaria and a boy with a heart condition. The really sad news is that having joined forces with another charity Caritas they found the funding for him to travel to India for a lifesaving operation – but he died of before we could get him there.
Present number of children at the ICC.
Over the whole summer we actually reunified 28 children and took in 20 new ones. Its actually one of the lowest number of children residential that we have had for a long time with just 27 children currently living with us (12 boys and 15 girls)
Duke continues to join in with the other children at The Centre. Doctors recently decided that he was not yet ready for his operation, but he will continue to be closely monitored.
Grafton Site purchase - update
Thank you for all your donations and support so far!
We're now getting nearer to our goal of purchasing the Grafton Site land. Read more about our plan to purchase the site announced earlier this month.
Grafton Site purchase
The St George Foundation has been given the opportunity to purchase the land used for our site.
We have managed (with the Scouts goodwill I have to say) to agree price probably about a third of the true market value. That came about by taking into consideration the developments that we have created over the years. The prices have rocketed in the last few years since a main road connected the area directly with Freetown city. In order to make it affordable we have split the site into two plots...the part we use on a daily basis and absolutely have to have, and a section that we would like for future development which we also currently occupy (if we can raise the funds).
We have agreed a price for the priority bit of $35,000 (US dollars; approximately £25,000) on around 2 acres which includes all the buildings.
The market value is about three times that and the Scouts have in fact sold an adjacent piece of land for the full value. On top of this there are also expenses and taxes due (much like our own stamp duty that need to be covered).
Following some fundraising, we now have $27,500 (£20,000) available and we are appealing to supporters to make loans for the remaining balance?
We currently pay $10,000 per annum in rent and so this will no longer happen and we propose that any money loaned is paid back out of the sum over the next few years until the money is repaid.
Of course if anyone would like to donate the money we would be very grateful.
The main objective in buying the site is that it gives security to continue the work over the coming years and at some point a new generation can take over.
St George 17 years old today!
It is a big day in St George Foundation today.
May the 5th 2004 (17 years ago today) Justina and a group of volunteers she had from church and her college days fed a group of 35 children some lunch and supper in the grounds of someone else’s orphanage and filled their afternoon with some activities. It was all out of their spare time and my spare money and some inspirational support from people around us.
The following day Justina called in a bit of a state…there were 50 children at the gate before she even got there! So they all got fed and they all joined what was to become the St George family and they all became brothers and sisters and all the volunteers became aunties and uncles. By the August holiday we had rented the first house and moved 68 children in and the St George work really began to grow into what we have done ever since.
We will be holding a prayer service on the weekend to give thanks to God for his blessings and especially for blessing the lives of the children we have worked for and always seeing us through the challenges we have faced.
Duke is doing great. He still has to have his operation but he is now quite well and joining in life with the other children and is now just one of the kids.
The children from the fire were able to benefit from a social centre we opened (in a tent provided by the Red Cross) along with the Catholic Church locally to give counselling support, meals and school activities and some fun for the children who lost their homes in the fire. Thirty five children actually came to live in with us who were in the most need and a couple of them that were suffering from smoke inhalation are now recovered.
A week ago we were donated a bus for a day and managed to take 80 children for a visit to the university and a tour of the highlights of Freetown followed by cultural talks from some visitors.
Life goes on
A special thanks to all of you that support us both financially and morally through all the times we have had.
With very best wishes
Devastating Fire Hits Freetown Slum
Recent donations - Thank you
Two of our disabled children have just received brand new all terrain wheelchairs. These will make a huge difference to their quality of life as their current ones were almost falling to bits.
Many thanks to our friends around Hythe near Southampton and especially the two ladies that saw the need when they visited St George last year and came home with the inspiration to help these two children.
Also donated at the same time are football shirts. The kids always love these things. Thank you guys!
Thank you too for James from Practical Tools who flew to Freetown and took these in his luggage and made the time while on his own trip to pass by St George Foundation to make the delivery in person.
St. George Foundation Sierra Leone organized a series of activities for children during the festive season.
Festive season starts as early as November every year. It is a great time and a magical experience for young children, as they encounter all of its wonders: the expectation of waiting and counting the days till Santa Claus’s visit, the years of tradition are there too, to explore.
The activities are organized every year for children in the Interim Care Center at Grafton. However, we also extend invitations to other children like the past beneficiaries of St. George Foundation who live in various communities within the Western Area Rural District, and the Street Children, the Organization is currently working with across different communities in Freetown.
These activities are organized to provide an interactive, learning, and fun fare atmosphere for the children. It started with a football competition on December 5th and, continued with other subsequent activities such as a beach party on 12th December, a Track and Field Sport Meet on 19th December, a Christmas Carol show on 24th December, a Christmas party at the ICC on 25th December 2020 and, ended with a learning and talent explosion session on the 1st January 2021 at the Interim Care Center at Grafton.
Being a child protection organization that identifies abandoned children and or exposed to other forms of abuse, and provides them with a safe and stress-free environment, where they can feel they belong, aspire and realize their full potential, organizing activities like these are very crucial to the work we do.
Interim Care Centre Ownership Opportunity
As you may know in 2008, St George Foundation moved to the Centre at Grafton, just outside Freetown. The land and buildings have never been our property and we worked in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Scouts although the site belongs to the Sierra Leone government. At the time we agreed to renovate the buildings so that we might then have occupation for 10 years at a peppercorn rent.
When this term ended, we agreed rental payments of about £7,000 per year.
However, we have an amazing opportunity arise recently to gain the freehold of the site for a fraction of its commercial rate. We feel this is an opportunity to give St George a stable footing for the future. The Sierra Leone government recognise the value of our work and the efforts we have made to develop and use the site in a responsible manner for the good of the community. As a result, they have offered to transfer the freehold to us subject to us continuing that work and effectively for the cost only of the surveys and other associated legal costs. We therefore need to raise about £15,000 in order secure the site as opposed to raising about £150,000 to purchase a similar site on the open market.
We will be applying to several charitable trusts in order to raise the funds, but this is not an easy time to access funding.
With existing funds and one or two pledges, we should have about £4,000 towards this.
If you are able to contribute towards this most important investment, it would be very much appreciated. You can contribute via the website or Justgiving, or send cheques made payable to St George Foundation to us, care of Drovers, Chapel Road, Swanmore, Southampton SO32 2QB
Orphan Empowerment Society award
To commemorate the International Day for the orphan, the Orphan Empowerment Society Sierra leone has awarded SGF for their services to support vulnerable children in Sierra Leone.
The second Monday of November each year is used to raise awareness of the plight of orphans and displaced children around the world.
COVID-19 and St George Foundation update
The COVID-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shock are having a huge impact on children’s lives and livelihoods. The restrictions of movement across districts, the introduction of curfew from 9:pm to 6: am, and the intermittent lockdown imposed by the government in a bid to curtail the coronavirus scourge has changed a lot of things. The coping mechanism in terms of livelihood has badly affected the children too. It has greatly affected the operations of our social workers and care givers across the board. Their working pattern has changed a bit. Most staff used to work in the office and the community daily. The restriction on movement has forced them to be working from home, more of phone calls and seldomly visiting the outside community. To many staff, this is strange and challenging.
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the behaviour of many Sierra Leoneans including children. Greetings by handshaking and hugs has always been part of our culture. We have maintained this form of social interaction for years now. However, the outbreak of the Coronavirus has changed the greeting method by binding your elbow or placing your hands on your chest as a sign of greetings. This is especially a strange and difficult practice for children.
The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted many areas including the market for basic amenities and food. Before the crisis, we use to buy our basic provisions more often. This has however, changed completely because of the outbreak. The outbreak has impacted the prices of commodities in the market greatly. The cost of provision and food is too expensive. This is because, there are a limited supply of goods in the market and also, the fall of foreign exchange in the market. All these challenges have real negative effect on children and women, who are the most vulnerable in our society.
Since the COVID-19 health pandemic is so deadly, leaders throughout the world, in an effort to break the chain of transmission of the virus, have needed to enforce precautionary measures as directed by the World Health Organisation. Amongst the various safety precautions, the use of a face mask has been enforced most. To many people including children, hand washing is not too strange but the use of face masks and the rule of social distancing are very difficult for the children especially those with asthmatic condition, and also during play time. The measures, through necessarily being enforced in good haste, has limited the interactive freedom of the children and is, consequently, making them quite stressed.
The government has made these measures compulsory for everyone. This is especially important, since it is very difficult to determine the well-being of everyone you interact with. Most institutions including the Security Sector and Drivers’ Union have helped the government in enforcing these policies in order to help reduce the spread of the contagious corona scourge.
Children's Education in Lockdown
All the government restrictions including the Stay at Home policy have greatly affected the activities of staff and also the activities of the children. Educationally, the children are not attending schools currently. Socially, their interactive and playing style has been limited, because people are not allowed to be crowded together.
The closing of school disrupts the life of children. However, there are volunteers currently at the Interim Care Centre at Grafton. The volunteers are school teachers who provide temporary teaching to the children on a daily basis. In response to the challenge of the children not being allowed to go school, the St George Foundation employed volunteer teachers in order to give the children some education while in lockdown. An agreement was signed to include all the policies (Child protection, child safeguarding policy, Police clearance, Volunteer policy and the code of conduct) of St George Foundation. They have over five years of teaching experience in unrelated areas in community schools, and have knowledge in child protection, child safeguarding and child code of conduct and counselling. Some of the areas they teach these children include, English Language, Mathematics, Hygiene, Social Studies, Home economics, Quantitative, Verbal aptitude, Sounds and Phoenix, Writing and Health education etc...
The teachers have made their relevance known amongst the children.
By not just teaching but providing social support and counselling, the children are very appreciative of them. Many of the children have made it known that the arrangement to provide the education is very timely, and it is keeping them busy at this difficult moment.
St George Foundation and Coronavirus
Sierra Leone has continued to experience lockdown and curfews. Fortunately, only 53 deaths from Covid-19 have been recorded in the country to date.
As a consequence of lockdown, and in order to keep costs to a minimum, 11 staff were made redundant at the end of March. The usual annual tracing and reunification of rescued children is now underway with a view to placing the 2019/20 children back in the community, with families.
It continues to be a challenge for St George Foundation to be able to bring in enough income to meet the costs (essentially just salaries, food and provisions), while fund raising activities are curtailed.
St George Foundation and Coronavirus
We understand that Sierra Leone recorded their first Coronavirus (COVID-19) case on 31 March.
The Government have decided to lockdown the country from 4th April for 2 weeks. It is widely expected that this may well be extended.
As a consequence, 11 staff have been made redundant, and all children and staff will remain at the Centre for the duration of the lockdown. Food, provisions and drugs have been obtained for this period.
For the next few months it is expected to be a challenge for St George Foundation to be able to bring in enough income to meet the costs (essentially just salaries, food and provisions).
Recent case study: Fatima
Fatima (not her real name) came to us at the age of 13 in July of 2019 and is now 14 years old. We met her at one of our Wednesday feeding sessions last summer and she has lived with us ever since at the children's' home in Freetown.
Fatima's father had left the family and then Fatima and her mother fell out and she was driven out of the house. With nowhere else to go she ended up living in the street and homeless. When we met her she accepted our help and came to the children's home to live with us and she started attending school and settled down and doing well.
Sometime later we realised that she was pregnant and the story came out of what had happened to her. She had been gang raped by a group of men and boys but had kept it to herself. During this incident she had become pregnant. She was unable to identify any of the men involved and so no prosecution or justice has been possible.
We did trace her mother and try and reunite them some weeks ago but the mother now realised she was pregnant and said she was a disgrace to the family and refused to have her back.
She was now heavily pregnant in January 2020 and seriously did not want to have the baby. Secretly and unbeknownst to us she found a 'witch doctor' that provided her with some herbs to drink that would cause a miscarriage. Over last weekend we realised that she was very ill and rushed her to hospital where the doctors attempted to save the baby. Unfortunately it was already dead inside of her and so was removed by the doctors. After two days she has come back to the home and is recovering.
This is obviously very traumatic for her and she will receive counselling from our staff and we will try again to reunite her with her mother. Sadly without the pregnancy or a baby it might actually prove easier this time, but she is a reformed character who is studying well at school and otherwise life is looking more positive.
- Building bridges for learning opportunities for children.
- Outreach programs with children to build and reinforce children’s confidence and social development.
- Enhancing education for children with support from external and internal volunteers.
- Positioning the organisation through networking and collaboration with partner organisation and private individuals.
- 19 girls and 11 boys have been admitted at the ICC since January 2019.
- 17 girls and 10 boys have been reunited with their families.
- 99% of enrolled children were promoted to new classes this academic year.
A nurse from St George Church in Germany will be visiting the Centre from October to end of December. She will be concentrating on training the staff and the resident Centre nurse in particular.
It is also planned for her to be working on a programme with the severely disabled children, who have all improved considerably since Hilary visited the Centre earlier in the year. Even though Hilary was ill much of the time and returned early, it seems she has planted a seed that has been really positive for these children.
A volunteer student paediatric nurse is also going to visit the Centre in early October, as she has a nursing placement in two hospitals in Freetown. It is hoped that both she and St George Foundation will benefit from her visit.
We are hoping to have clean water piped in soon.
CRS (Catholic Relief service) bought land for a community group at Grafton, very close to the Centre. They have their own large dam that supplies them with water and the community is in agreement that St George can access that water, but it has to pass a neighbouring (industrial) property to reach the main road and then the pipes will be laid along the highway so avoiding private property and the scouts land.
We are also expecting to be connected to the electricity supply soon.
We have paid our deposit (50%), but the electricity company is waiting for the remainder of the neighbouring properties that want electricity to pay their deposits too in order to make the final connections. It seems that the electricity company is waiting for a critical mass to have paid to justify completing this.
Flooding Emergency in Freetown
There has been serious flooding, loss of life and displaced children in Freetown, who urgently need help. The following news appeal is provided by Justina Conteh from St George Foundation in Sierra Leone.
Tackling shocks and depression experiences by children affected by flooding in Freetown area
Over 2 months (August and September 2019), this project will provide temporal shelter, food and non-food items for 100 children displaced by flood waters in Bathurst, Regent, Kaningo, Culvert, Congo Town Bridge and Tombo communities in Western Area Urban and Rural districts. This would help the children to recover from the disaster, and prepare them to safely return to their families and begin schooling in September 2019. It will further help the affected children gain access to key facilities, like temporal shelter, food, clothing and learning materials to enhance short, medium and long-term growth and development.
100 children in Bathurst, Regent, Kaningo, Culvert, Congo Town Bridge and Tombo communities displaced by flood waters in Freetown and environs are protected through the provision of temporal shelter, and food and non-food items to help them recover from effects of depression and shocks experienced during the floods, and to better prepare them to return to their families and schools in good health.
The project will be led St George Foundation, in partnership with St George Foundation UK, Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and participating communities.
Why it matters
On August 2nd 2019, Freetown experienced heavy rainfall causing severe flooding in the whole city including communities of Regent, Culvert, Congo Town Bridge, Bathurst and Kaningo. On the same day, a mudslide occurred in Bathurst community killing two persons; and flood waters damaged homes, wrecked household assets, and injured people particularly women and children in the above communities. On 6th August 2019 again, another devastating flood took place in Tombo, a fishing village very close to Waterloo which left hundreds of families displaced. It is estimated that over 800 flood affected children presently need shelter, food and clothing support.
- Collaborate with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs to enrol 100 flood affected children at the St. George Interim Care Centre in Grafton for 2 months
- Provide food and non-food items including learning materials for 100 flood affected children
- Reunite children with their families and communities
Overall budget: £5000
Why St George Foundation?
St George Foundation, Sierra Leone, has vast experience in humanitarian emergency work including children affected by flood.
As can be seen from the above SGF in Sierra Leone urgently need about £5000 in order to help 100 affected children. Please donate whatever you can to help.
Aruna has been the centre manager for several years. He is perfect for the role - very caring and responsible.
Unfortunately, he has discovered that his wife has a hole in the heart and needs an urgent operation. They are raising $6,000 in order to have an operation in Ghana. We have been raising funds specifically for this purpose, and hoped to raise up to $1,500. We have sent $750 already, so are hoping to raise more funds.
Sierra Leone Update - August 2019
Children at the Centre
The 2018 intake of children at the Centre are reunified with relations, following an extensive tracing exercise. A new intake of around 30 children will then be rescued from the streets of Freetown. It is hoped they will have settled sufficiently to be able to attend school for the 2019/20 academic year.
Supply of Clean Water
The water pipes were previously connected to the dam but have been vandalised, and as the dam is some distance from the Centre it is difficult to provide security.
Water is urgently needed by the end of the rainy season (end October). It looks like we may be able to connect the Centre to another organisation’s own water source, with their agreement. We need to raise funds in order to pay for the necessary materials and labour. Budget awaited.
Up to now electricity has been provided by a generator, which has sometimes failed. We are now about to be able to connect to a mains supply. The cost is £1,000, and this has been provided by a generous supporter. Connection work is underway and connection should be made within a few weeks.
Mudslide Victim Snapshot - Abdul
Abdul is 13 years old and was attending the God’s Project Academy primary school at Regent. He was living with both parents at the above address.
Abdul deeply remembers the mudslide which took away his parents by surprise. He remembers when a sound struck like a thunder, but he was still asleep due to the down pour of rain at about 7:am. He was woken up from his sleep when his father told him to go outside the house and that something is about to happen, so he became afraid as many people were running from one point to another to protect their lives. As Abdul’s father tried to help them cross them over to the other side of the road, flood water sweep the entire family away, and Abdul was rescued from the flood water by another man who took him out to safety. He was admitted at the Connaught hospital, and was there for two weeks before he was referred us for temporary care and support. He was provided with support and psycho-social first aid treatment because of the trauma.
Abdul is now coping well with other children as his life has turned around again. He is happy and we're planning to enrol him in the coming school year, because there is a great potential in the little boy.
Mudslide Victim Snapshot - Fatama
On the 14th August, 2017 at about 7:00am in the morning, Fatmata was asleep with her two children in the same house (aged 7yrs and 1yr 10 months). At around 7:30am the rain was pounding the ground furiously she was not able to go out as usual in the market, after few minutes she overheard a strange sound like a crash nearby, her children were still sleeping enjoying the beat of the rain fall that wonderful morning.
She was so terrified when the land slide occurred within two seconds, Fatmata and her entire neighbourhood were covered in mud buried underneath the earth. She was absolutely in ‘a death row’ when well-wishers arrived at the scene started digging out the debris. Fatmata said she was very lucky to be rescued by the volunteers but could not find her two beloved children in the rubble. She sustained serious injuries due to the heavy rocks coming from the hills. She was admitted at the Connaught hospital for two weeks before she was later referred to us for temporary shelter and counselling.
When Fatmata arrived she was traumatized and could not see her two children. She started crying when she saw other children playing with their brothers or sisters. She was provided with daily to help de-traumatize her from this terrible event.
Fatmata was also provided with further medication and now her life is much more stable than before. She has started interacting well with others as she slowly recovers from pains and agony of disaster.
Fatmata plans to establish a business after this trauma with the support of St George Foundation to help her regain her confidence.
Since the flooding and landslide disaster occurred on August 14th 2017 in Freetown, we have been working collaboratively with the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children Affairs and other child protection partners all referring Children and Adults at our interim care centre (ICC) at Grafton for temporary shelter while awaiting family tracing and reunification.
We're playing a leading role in protecting children and adult in need of support, following the landslide. Most of the affected children referred at the ICC have lost primary caregivers and other extended family members in the disaster. During the referral process many of the children and adults were traumatized due to the magnitude of the land slide, which was beyond any expectation. It is still a surprise to many of the victims as they recover slowly from the devastating shock. Counselling services were provided by our staff on a daily basis to de-traumatized the affected victims as they arrived daily.
Food, shelter, clothing, toiletries and medication are being provided on a daily basis though much is needed to be done based on the capacity of the number of children and adults currently residing at the ICC. Many of the adults have lost hope, because it will be difficult for some of them to start their life again, as many of them were engaged in small scale business and have lost everything.
As children do easily forget what has happen to them by playing together. This always brings them lot of joy and helps them to support each other. Many children have started asking questions as to whether they will be able to attend school again. Some of the children were the only survivors of their family left when the flood water wiped away their parents while trying to save them. Counselling is provided to all, both those who seem happy, as well as those still clearly suffering psychologically from the disaster.
Freetown Mudslide and Flooding
We've been called into action by Department of Social Welfare and UNICEF (alongside Don Boscoes and SOS Children's Centre) to get involved with the emergency relief effort following the mudslide and extensive flooding to Freetown.
There are a huge number of children separated from their families, so the three organisations will work to register them and provide immediate care. We also being asked to provide counselling services.
We are aiming to prepare 50 beds on but do not have the funds to support this many children. We have requested assistance from UNICEF and others, but anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated - please click donate now button for ways to help
All our children and staff are OK, and we are not aware of any children being affected that have previously stayed with us. The hillside above the centre has suffered considerable deforestation and unofficial development recently and as a result a large number of rocks slid down the hill and crashed into our water reservoir. Damage to the reservoir and pipework means we currently have no water supply. It is however repairable and for the moment we will have to buy in bottled water until we can fix it.
We've been busy over the last few months continuing our work to help even more homeless children off the streets of Sierra Leone. However, while we have been working hard there, we have also been working hard here.
Over the next few weeks, you will see the launch of our brand new St George Foundation website, as well as increased news and events being publicised via our social media channels.
Look out for the news, follow us, and please continue to support the work we do each day in Sierra Leone to help the hundreds of children left to fend for themselves without the care or love of their immediate family - something we all very much take for granted.
We're award winners!
‘’Give honours to those who honours are due’’ This is the direct quotation of His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone, during his special award giving ceremony organised for deserving NGOs, INGO, Individuals, private institutions and MDAs at the State House on State Avenue, Freetown. St. George Foundation-SL was one of the NGOs that received the special presidential awards as one of the outstanding organisation that championed the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone.
The Director of Ben Hirsch Child Protection on the left and the Executive Director of St. George Foundation, Justina Conteh, on the right with the Sierra Leone Director of GOAL-Ireland in the middle.
Football superstar Samuel Eto (UNICEF, Goodwill Ambassador) visited the ST George Foundation Interim Care Centre at Grafton, Freetown, Sierra Leone as part of the FIFA Eleven for Health campaign. He was joined by FIFA's Chief Medical Officer Professor JiÃ â¢í DvoÃ â¢ák and President of the Sierra Leone Football Association, Mrs Isha Johansen.
They were touring facilities being utilised by Ebola affected children, child survivors and extremely vulnerable children, and our centre was chosen as was one of only two centres accredited by the Sierra Leone government.
24th August 2015
A Danish TV programme following the story of Ebola orphans, and based on the work of the St George Foundation, is being aired today. We very much hope that new Danish friends will soon be helping us.
The film can be found on the DR TV website: www.dr.dk/tv/se/horisont/horisont-2015-08-24
21st August 2015
Sierra Leone has its first 7 days with no new Ebola cases. Great news and potentially great progress.
August 2015 - British Army at St George
British Army – throughout the Ebola crisis, members of the British Army have been visiting St George children’s home in their spare time as well as on official duties. They have been a great source of fun for the children but most amazingly have transformed our buildings. They have tackled the plumbing, built an incinerator, supported the staff, and have stunningly decorated the buildings.
Huge praise and thanks for those involved…it's stunning!
The British Army are now back in the UK. Members of the British Army have returned and met us with stories of what a fantastic job our team on the ground are doing. The consensus is that St George stands head and shoulders above everything else they witnessed. We are now working with them to find ways to raise the standards of other orphanages through a proposed mentoring scheme.
We have started assisting children in another area – Port Loco. It is an area near the Guinea border where Ebola has hit very hard and left many children in an extreme state. We have managed to get 200 back into school and are monitoring 500 families to spot those in the most desperate need.
29th July 2015
Tulip Mazumdar revisits Sierra Leone to follow up on Augustine's death and his legacy. Check out the BBC news article here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-33581446
Ebola cases and the pressure on the teams in Sierra Leone and UK are gradually easing. Despite being very tired and having suffered huge stress the team in Sierra Leone carries on with supporting orphans.
Update, August 2015: With the benefit of hindsight we realise this, Easter 2015, was a turning point.
EVERY SINGLE STAFF MEMBER stayed at their post despite huge risks and real fear and pressure and handled with dignity the loss of a much loved and valued team member when the manager Augustine Baker himself contracted and died of Ebola.
23rd March 2015
We are delighted to have news that Augustin Baker's three children are also now out of quarantine and all healthy. They are temporarily in care while final arrangements for their future are being sorted.
12th March 2015
The quarantine on our orphanage has now lifted and all children and staff inside are healthy which is fantastic news.
Augustin and Bundu Baker's children will remain in quarantine (not at the St George site) for a further ten days following Bundu's death on 4 March.
4th March 2015
Announcement following BBC News at One report today:
4th March 2015
We have just received the terrible news that Bundu Baker, Augustin's wife, died of Ebola this morning. Our thoughts are with Augustin and Bundu's two young children at this awful time.
The St George Foundation will be looking after their children (a girl aged 7 months and a boy aged 7 years) and will ensure they get a good education when the Ebola outbreak is over.
If anyone would like to support these children please make donations directly to us but use the reference "Staff orphans" on the bank transfer or cheque, or contact us after donating to let us know your PayPal/JustGiving donation is for these children.
3rd March 2015
Some good news: the four children who were sent to an observation unit and tested for Ebola have all had negative (i.e. Ebola-free) results.
2nd March 2015
Update on Ebola quarantine at St George Foundation orphanage:
Sadly Augustin Baker's wife, Bundu, has also now been taken seriously ill with Ebola.
In addition, four children in our care have developed temperatures so have been taken to an observation unit. We should have test results back within a couple of days.
We will post updates here in due course. Thank you for your thoughts at this difficult time.
26th February 2015
News of Augustin Baker's death and a tribute to him was given this morning on BBC Radio 4's Today program. You can listen to the clip below:
25th February 2015
It is with great sadness we share the news that Augustin Baker has died after contracting Ebola last week.
Augustin has worked tirelessly to help children in our care orphaned by the disease and has been particularly active reaching out to help Ebola orphans in affected communities. His loss will be very greatly felt by all of us at St George Foundation.
Augustin featured in the BBC News report broadcast about the St George Foundation last month, and his death has also been reported on their website: bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31624149
22nd February 2015
A St George Foundation staff member has contracted Ebola:
On Wednesday 18th Feb, staff member Augustin Baker (featured on the BBC broadcast) collapsed and rushed to the hospital.
Augustin was transferred to Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Centre on Thursday 19th Feb and Ebola was confirmed. Four staff were exposed while assisting Augustin to hospital
On Friday 20th Feb the St George children's centre put under quarantine. 10 staff and 25 children confined to the centre for 21 days.
As of today, Sunday 22nd Feb, Augustin is as well as can be expected at this stage and was transferred to the British centre for Ebola volunteers who may become infected.
BBC News article on 23rd Feb reporting on the current situation at our centre: bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31587180