Salesians of Don Bosco West Africa Province

Salesians of Don Bosco West Africa Province

48 boys bids farewel after rehabilitation

December 3,,2016 - Sierra Leone

The Family Tracing Department is central to the work of Don Bosco Fambul in Sierra Leone. Staff members engage in night assessment and take in street kids for rehabilitation. In August 2016 a total of 48 street boys successfully completed the rehabilitation programme and were re-unified with either their biological parents or extended family members. Re-unifying the kids is just one aspect of the work of social workers, but continuous follow up on their progress is key to social work as each social worker has the case file of each kid and does follow up to ensure the kids remain at home and are either in formal educational institutions or learning skills. 

Learning and financial support is made available to families, all with the aim of encouraging them to cope with their kids and to cushion the financial burden of low income earners. Regular visits of the social workers to the children's families ensure their stay “at home” and prevents children facing challenges to return to the streets. 

 Family tracing department: Daily Challenges

Effective social work is grounded on daily briefing were social workers exchange daily challenges they grapple with on the field. Raymond Kamara Coordinator for Family Tracing department said one of the biggest challenges social workers are faced with is non compliance from some families and guardians to accept their else-where children who because of unacceptable behaviour have taken to the street. They remain defiant because “these kids have picked up new habits and behaviours which parents or guardians may not cope with when eventually they are re-unified again with them”.

Each boy is followed personally by a social worker from the first day he is contacted on the streets, throughout their stay at Don Bosco Fambul, during reunification and until the boy acquires majority of age and starts to live a life on his own. 

‟Social workers are trained to even work in hazardous circumstances and cope with either threats or rejections from family members", says Raymond Tommy. Don Bosco Family is of the view that these street kids can be transformed into better men in the future and would eventually contribute to society positively. Though they may be considered bad boys as many perceive them, a holistic rehabilitation programme cou-pled with family support can make a difference in their lives.

Street work and new group: September 2016 

After the reunification of 48 boys with their families and after one week of break to regain strength and to plan the next step, 25 social workers and 5 Salesians went to the streets of Freetown to do assessment, to contact street kids and detect the most vulner-able ones for admission into a new three month pilot experience from October to December 2016. The town was divided in several strategic areas: Goderich-St John; St John-PZ Area and Susan Bay; Eastern Police-Shell; Shell Calaba town and Jui Waterloo. A special team of Female Social workers took to the streets to contact underage girls living on the street, especially those who are living in a situation of prostitution. More than 300 underage children were contacted, 150 survey forms were filled by the social workers and on the 3rd of October a selected group of 72 children were invited to come to Don Bosco Fambul for a special programme: children got the chance to have a shower, change their clothes, have a drawing session, chat with social workers, have fun and games, sports, talks and a nutritious lunch. At the end of the day 28 boys were taken into the residential programme following the criteria of age (youngest ones), time spent on the street (longer stay=more than one year) and vulnerability (weakness, sickness, Ebola orphans, Ebola survivors).

The new group is part of a pilot experience which will keep the boys for a shorter time (only 3 months of rehabilitation) and immediate reunification, acknowledging that the proper place for a child is his own family (biological or extended).

Topics: street childrensierra leonedon bosco fambulrehabilitation