Today, we support 147 child amputees across four locations in Sierra Leone. Having gained a deep understanding of the complex issues child amputees face due to the traumatic personal experience of the Hope family, we have developed a project that responds to the medical, educational and psychosocial needs of child amputees.
Our project aims to deliver our five main objectives:
- Access to mobility
- Access to education
- Access to counselling
- Building sustainable futures
- Fighting against stigma
- Access to mobility: we provide access to prosthetics or other mobility devices (crutches, wheelchairs), surgeries and aftercare to ensure comfortable use. We are committed to providing medical support to each individual child until it stops growing.
- Access to education: we support the integration of child amputees into schools, by paying for school fees and associated costs (books, uniforms) for one year, before enrolling families in the Family Business Scheme. We ensure admission in suitable institutions, from nursery school to university level. Additionally, some students are enrolled in skills training courses, ranging from IT studies to vocational training as electricians and tailors.
- Access to counselling: the social work component recognises that each of the beneficiaries is likely to face individual barriers in their homes, in their education, and in combatting their disabilities with some having struggled considerably due to stigma or trauma. We provide individual, family and group counselling.
- Building sustainable futures – the Family Business Scheme: to ensure that sustainable educational support for the child can be secured in the future, we address the underlying issue of gross poverty that characterises most child amputees’ homes. The programme consists of business mentoring and training to develop an individually tailored business plan. The families then access micro-grants and savings schemes, which sees the family use the income to grow their business and save the profits.
- Fighting against stigma: Cultural stigmas are part of the reason why child amputees are at a greater risk than the average child in Sierra Leone of not receiving an education, and are still often referred to as ‘debul pikin’ – a term meaning devil child. We therefore engage with communities and the broader public through radio programmes and stakeholder meetings to educate the public about the rights of the disabled and discourage discrimination.
Who? In June 2012, the project began with 66 child amputees. The project was first extended to a total of 100 beneficiaries in November 2012 and then to the current total of 147 in May 2014.
Where? We work across four main locations, Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, and Makeni, Bo and Kono.
What? Responding to the medical, educational and psychosocial needs of child amputees
Our partner organisation? To help us implement this project, ELoH works with Street Child. Street Child is a UK-registered charity, established in 2008, that aims to create educational opportunities for some of the most vulnerable children in West Africa.
Why is our work important?
Sierra Leone is home to our largest project due to the immense need for support:
- Sadly, child amputees are often seen out of school and are begging on the streets. Child amputees are a particularly common phenomenon, since amputations were used indiscriminately by rebel forces during Sierra Leone’s ten-year civil war which ended in 2002. To terrorise and intimidate the civilian population, arms, legs, lips, noses and ears of children as young as six months old were amputated.
- Sierra Leone is particularly ill-equipped to address the problem without help: though the country has been on the road to recovery since the civil war ended in 2002, Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in the world and ranks among the ten least developed countries globally, according to the Human Development Index.
- The country has also been badly affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, which has put an incredible strain on an already weak health infrastructure.
» To read more visit our country profiles about Liberia, India and Sierra Leone.
» Learn more about the project in our Sierra Leone Progress Report July 2015