In Sierra Leone, preventing Ebola with a laugh
PORT LOKO DISTRICT, Sierra Leone, 6 November 2015 – Pa Jonsin is having a crisis. His son Junior has come home shaking with fever, and when the boy vomits, panic ensues. Fortunately this is not real life, but a theatrical drama unfolding in front of an audience in Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom.
Providing care and protection, in Ebola times and beyond
KANIA, Sierra Leone, 19 October 2015 – After two days suffering severe headaches, Mamadu Sesay thought he might have contracted the Ebola virus. Fearing the worst, Mamudu made his way to the Kania Community Care Centre (CCC) in Sierra Leone’s Kambia District.
In Sierra Leone, working with communities to curb teenage pregnancies
KPANGBAMA, Sierra Leone, 7 October 2015 – Every afternoon, 17-year-old Isatu Jah and a group of other young girls gather in a community hall in the village of Kpangbama, in southern Sierra Leone, to plan for the future. This is the Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) club, which works to reduce teenage pregnancy by providing a safe space for girls through training in life skills, with a strong focus on sexual and reproductive health.
In Sierra Leone, fighting Ebola on two wheels
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 1 October 2015 – In Sierra Leone, one of the easiest and cheapest ways of getting from place to place is by hopping on the back of one of the Okada motorcycle taxis that ply the streets of towns and villages and the narrow rural tracks far from the paved roads.
Staying safe in Ebola quarantine without Mum or Dad
TONKOLILI DISTRICT, Sierra Leone, 27 August 2015 – When 16-year-old Emma Kamara’s mother left home for a long trading trip upcountry, she had no idea that her three children, left in the care of neighbours, would soon be under lockdown.
In Sierra Leone, hope and challenges as quarantine camp closes
LAYA GBORAH, Sierra Leone, 14 August 2015 – The closure of Camp Hope on 31 July in Sierra Leone’s Kambia district was cause for celebration – muted, yes, because Ebola is not yet defeated nationwide, but it was the end of quarantine facilities there for villagers who had potentially been exposed to the deadly virus.
In Sierra Leone, addressing Ebola’s impact on birth registration
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 31 July 2015 – Abass Mansaray, a 48-year-old farmer in Blama town, in eastern Sierra Leone, beamed proudly while displaying the small yellow paper that has just been given to his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Isata, by local health officials.
In Sierra Leone, beating the drum against Ebola
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 30 July 2015 – The rhythmic sound of tam-tams fills the corridors at the UNICEF-supported Observational Interim Care Centre (OICC) in the Portee neighbourhood of Freetown, Sierra Leone, where children who may have been exposed to Ebola are kept in quarantine as a precaution. It is meal time, and Braima Bockarie, one of six resident caregivers, plays the drums to calm the children who have been separated from their families.
In Sierra Leone, supporting Ebola survivors on the road to recovery
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 26 May 2015 – When child survivors like 10-year-old Hawa* emerge from the plastic-walled Ebola treatment centres, there are relief, smiles and often a joyous mix of dancing and singing.
In Sierra Leone, two Ebola survivors share a common bond – and a future together
KAMBIA, Sierra Leone, 23 April 2015 – Amid the sound of children playing in the rooms of the Social Welfare Ministry in Sierra Leone’s Kambia district, it isn’t easy for parents and caregivers to hear their names being called out.
In Sierra Leone, hopes of saving the school year
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 14 April 2015 – Jan Sankoh, 12, can’t quite decide if he wants to be an engineer or a pilot when he grows up. But whether he ends up studying plans or flying planes, he knows he needs to be in school – something he hasn’t done for nine months because of the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 3,400 people in the country since May 2014.
Nourishing newborns in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 7 April 2015 – Moses is a healthy baby who coos and smiles at the sight of his mother. This chubby, wide-eyed boy came dangerously close to death five months back when he was still in the womb of his Ebola-stricken mother.
The SMS reporting revolution takes on Ebola, in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 9 March 2015 – At the end of the working day, Alfred Pujeh sits down at his wooden office desk, reviews his notes – and pulls out his phone. It’s reports time, in this Observational Interim Care Centre (OICC) in Sierra Leone.
Surviving together, in Ebola-hit Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 3 March 2015 – Picturesque mountains and lush greenery adorn the fields surrounding the Observational Interim Care Centre (OICC) in which James Kamara* and his six siblings pass day 18 of their quarantine. A soft breeze flows through the bright yellow building, carrying the laughter of children.
In Sierra Leone, Ebola survivors begin to find acceptance
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 23 February 2015 – Yeabu Kalokoh, 18, is beaming with smiles as she holds her baby girl, Grace, and gently caresses her. The young mother and her nearly 2-year-old daughter share the terrible ordeal and the good fortune of escaping the deadly grip of the Ebola virus.
Social mobilizers empower ‘hotspot’ communities to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 28 January 2015 – On a bright, hot day, Andrew Koroma and Mohamed Conteh walk through Freetown’s congested Rokupa community, armed with a megaphone, posters and flyers. This small team of social mobilizers is here because one particular community is currently under its second 21-day quarantine after recording an Ebola death.
After Ebola – a boy's return to life, and his community, in Sierra Leone
BO, Sierra Leone, 30 December 2014 – Musu Koroma will never forget the day she was told that her 14-year-old son Sanfa had died of Ebola.
Survivors fighting against Ebola in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 18 December 2014 – Jusif Koroma and his sister Bilikisu survived Ebola. Seventeen of their relatives, including their father, four brothers and seven sisters, have succumbed to the illness.
In Sierra Leone, bringing isolation closer to home
BOMBALI DISTRICT, Sierra Leone, 20 November 2014 – “Well, we thank God for the Community Care Centres, but it’s not easy working here,” says nurse Josephine Conteh as she waits for the first patients to arrive at the new eight-bed care unit, known as a CCC, in the village of Pate Bana Mara in Bombali District, northern Sierra Leone.
In Sierra Leone, vaccinations another casualty of Ebola
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 3 November 2014 – These days in Sierra Leone, most people do all they can to stay clear of hospitals and health centres, where those infected with Ebola virus are being sheltered and treated. It may be an understandable response to a deadly epidemic, but the wider health impact of such fears is already being felt, most notably in the steep decline in vaccinations.
In Sierra Leone, getting back to school – on the airwaves
With schools closed throughout the country as a result of the Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone is bringing the classroom into students’ homes through the use of educational radio broadcasts.
Surviving Ebola in Sierra Leone – a child’s story
KENEMA, Sierra Leone, 16 October 2014 – Four-year-old Amadou wakes up his sister, Mary, at 4:30 a.m. He has a headache and can’t sleep. He asks her where their mother is. It is the same question he has asked almost daily since he was discharged from the Ebola Treatment Unit in Kenema, almost two months ago.
Heroes on the front line in the fight against Ebola
KENEMA, Sierra Leone, 6 August 2014 – The Ebola Unit at Kenema District Hospital has become what could be described as the ‘Ground Zero’ of Sierra Leone’s Ebola outbreak.
Adolescent girl club in Sierra Leone tackles teenage pregnancy and engenders independence
PORT LOKO, Sierra Leone, 14 July 2014 – A group of teenage girls take off their shoes and enter a large room on the second storey of an old building, across the street from Port Loko’s bustling market. They are members of the Wharf club, an adolescent club for girls, and they meet here every afternoon.
Adolescent theatre builds peace in Sierra Leone
KENEMA, Sierra Leone, 23 June 2014 – As the growing crowd waits expectantly in a square in Sierra Leone’s Kenema district, 17-year-old Ibrahim Jalloh and his fellow actors are brimming with excitement, ready to perform their new play. The group have created a production that is meant not just to entertain, but also to educate.
A social worker in Sierra Leone takes on child exploitation
MAKENI, Sierra Leone, 14 August 2013 – Aminata*, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, lives with her four younger brothers and her grandmother in Makeni, the main city of Sierra Leone’s Northern Province. “We don’t have a mother,” she explains. “Some say she was killed during the war.”
School-led sanitation programme in Sierra Leone empowers children and their community with life-saving knowledge
TONKOLILI, Sierra Leone, 19 November 2012 – Fourteen-year-old Memenatu Conteh had been exposed to many of the dangers that are linked to poor sanitation and hygiene.
In Sierra Leone, school-led sanitation programmes improve health and save lives
MASAKA, Sierra Leone, 10 July 2012 – Memunatu Conteh, 14, lives in Masaka with her mother and four siblings. She has a busy daily routine, collecting water and sweeping her family’s compound in the morning, going to TDC Primary School Masaka to attend classes, then fetching water for the classrooms. After school, she plays football, then returns home to help her mother with the cooking.
Reviving education in the aftermath of Sierra Leone's civil war
KAILAHUN DISTRICT, Sierra Leone, 7 April 2011– Burned-out buildings and bullet holes serve as constant reminders of a turbulent and horrific past in the remote eastern border district of Kailahun, one of the areas that was hardest hit by Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war.
Education plants the seeds of a better future for adolescents in Sierra Leone
KAILAHUN, Sierra Leone, 25 February 2011 – In this rural district of Kailahun, everyone takes part in farming on some level, whether you are a child helping your mother sort seeds or an old man weeding a field. However for David Vandy, 15, farming is no longer just about putting food on the table. It is about his education.
Girls’ Education Week: Advocating for equity in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 1 November 2010 – Fatmata Musa Kula Sowa, 12, a high school student from southern Sierra Leone, recently made a journey to the nation’s capital, Freetown, in order to help promote Girls’ Education Week.
Free, universal health care rolls out for mothers and children in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 28 July 2010 – Early each morning, queues start to form outside the Princess Christian Memorial Hospital in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Pregnant women, mothers and young children wait patiently. Health-care workers trawl the lines for priority cases that need immediate attention.
Podcast #26: Targeting education on World Refugee Day
NEW YORK, USA, 21 June 2010 – This year, World Refugee Day – which is commemorated each year on 20 June – had ‘Home’ as its theme, in recognition of the many millions of people around the world uprooted by conflict, persecution or natural disasters.
Reducing the dangers of pregnancy in Sierra Leone through free women's health care
BO, Sierra Leone, 7 June 2010 – In late April, just after her baby boy was born at Bo Government Hospital in southern Sierra Leone, it was by no means certain that Hawa Barrie would survive to raise him. Ms. Barrie, 40, was suffering from eclampsia, a pregnancy-related complication characterized by seizures and convulsions.
Sierra Leone announces free health care for mothers and children
BONTHE DISTRICT, Sierra Leone, 27 April 2010 – Sabatu Koroma, 28, groaned as she lay helplessly on the stretcher of the motorcycle ambulance. She had just arrived at the United Brethren in Christ Hospital in Mattru Jong – a fishing village in Sierra Leone’s Bonthe district – where she was rushed following complications with her pregnancy.
Japanese government donates 1.3 million dollar grant for the reduction of maternal and child mortality in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 29 December 2009 – The Japanese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E. Ambassador Keiichi Katakami has exchanged notes with the UNICEF Representative to Sierra Leone, Mahimbo Mdoe for the Government of Japan’s grant of 1.3 million dollars for the prevention and control of infectious diseases, in support of efforts by the Government to reduce child and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone.
Girls’ Education Week helps girls recognize their potential in Sierra Leone
KABALA, Sierra Leone, 15 December 2009 – Hawa Marrah, 12, is a pupil of the Islamic Primary School in Kabala, an agrarian community in northern Sierra Leone. Her results from the National Primary School Examination have just been published and she is one of five girls who had the best results in the district.
Photography helps children in Sierra Leone realize their right to self-expression
KABALA, Sierra Leone, 18 November 2009 – Until a few months ago, Fatmata Shaw, 13, had never used a camera or a computer. But after training with a professional photographer, she wants to use her newfound skills to help her peers in the community.
Reuniting children with their families in Sierra Leone
KENEMA, Sierra Leone, 10 November 2009 – Conflict raged throughout the 1990s in Sierra Leone, destroying homes and weakening community structures. It also tore apart many families, as children were sent away to live with relatives or strangers, or in orphanages.
UNICEF responds to lack of health care for mothers and newborns in Sierra Leone
KOINADUGU, Sierra Leone, 27 October 2009 – Lack of access to affordable health care is one of the major contributing factors to pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths in Sierra Leone.
Partnering for girls’ education in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 8 September 2009 – Three children, all seemingly under 10 years of age, are camped around Freetown’s Cotton Tree – a historic site for offering prayers for peace and prosperity – begging for handouts. They do not go to school.
UNICEF Regional Director in Sierra Leone: ‘You will build a new country’
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 20 July 2009 – UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano, made his first visit to Sierra Leone last week to evaluate progress on maternal and child health, education, and water and sanitation in the wake of the country’s long civil war.
Blind children learn about their stake in the Sierra Leone Child Rights Act
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 14 July 2009 – Osman Kamara, 16, was born blind in Freetown. At the age of five, he was enrolled at the Milton Margai School for the Blind, and he has lived there ever since. Osman is now a fifth-form pupil in one of the secondary schools in Freetown; with the aid of the Braille, he participates effectively in the classroom and makes good grades.
Improving hygiene through ‘school-led total sanitation’ in Sierra Leone
PORT LOKO, Sierra Leone, 1 July 2009 – Practicing good hygiene is anything but a chore for the children of E.M. Primary School in Laya, in the Port Loko district.
Sierra Leone’s Mother and Child Health Week aims to improve child survival
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 25 June 2009 – Baindu Sesay, 40, hails from Pepel village, Port Loko, north of Freetown, but she and her family were visiting relatives in the south-eastern city of Kenema during the ‘Mami en Pikin Well Bodi’ campaign (also known as Mother and Child Health Week) that took place across the country earlier this month.
Sierra Leonean survivor honoured for advocacy on behalf of women and children
NEW YORK, USA, 8 May 2009 – The newest recipient of the Voices of Courage Award, Mariatu Kamara, met yesterday with UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, who congratulated her on the honour.
UNICEF and GAVI provide immunization to Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 31 March 2009 – On the dusty streets of a Freetown suburb, a crowd slowly shuffles along to find work. There is silence. Everyone here struggles to keep going. Poverty is the norm.
Empowering communities to improve sanitation in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 25 February 2009 – Until recently, Kadiatu’s children had regularly suffered from diarrhoea and other diseases related to poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation facilities. Such bouts with illness led to missed school days and constant visits to the local hospital, which added additional strains to an already overstretched household.
Mothers join the campaign to scale up girls’ education in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 4 November 2008 – Aminata Mansaray, 16, was born in Mankneh, a small community in the Bombali district of northern Sierra Leone. She is the third of five children – three boys and two girls – and for much of her young life she was not enrolled in school.
Villagers build latrines for better hygiene and child survival in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 28 October 2008 – Mahmud Konneh recently finished building a latrine in his village, Tilorma, in the Kenema District of eastern Sierra Leone. It is one of the 30 new latrines that have been constructed by Tilorma villagers under the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach.
Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo urges girls to 'change the face of Africa'
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 11 September 2008 – West African singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo recently visited a UNICEF-supported girls’ education project in Sierra Leone, where she called for stronger actions to help educate girls and lift them out of poverty.
‘Voice of Children’ becomes a national fixture in Sierra Leonean radio
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 20 August 2008 – At its launch in 2003, the UNICEF-supported ‘Voice of Children’ project in Sierra Leone was the first post-conflict radio programme of its kind. Its success has served as a template for a similar programme in Liberia, as well as efforts in other countries emerging from conflict.
Manchester United stars and UNICEF team up against AIDS in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 26 June 2008 – Sierra Leone’s Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Dr. Minkailu Bah, has launched a Manchester United-supported HIV/AIDS awareness campaign at the National Stadium in Freetown, the capital.
Executive Director says stability is bringing progress for children in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN/MAKENI, Sierra Leone, 29 February 2008 – As she wrapped up a three-day official visit here yesterday, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said Sierra Leone’s stability was bringing progress for children after a decade of conflict.
Reporter’s notebook: David Beckham surprises local footballers in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone 18 January 2008 – A group of Sierra Leonean football players received the surprise of their lives recently, when football star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham joined their informal game at a roadside pitch.
Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham visits child survival programmes in Sierra Leone
BOMBALI DISTRICT, Sierra Leone, 22 January 2008 – Football star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham recently completed a visit to Sierra Leone, where he travelled with UNICEF representatives to focus attention on the issue of child survival.
Children call for youth focus in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 9 January 2007 – About 355 children from communities across Sierra Leone called on national leaders to make children a priority in the response to HIV and AIDS during the recent Conference on Children and AIDS, held in Freetown.
On CRC anniversary, Ishmael Beah appointed UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War
NEW YORK, USA, 20 November 2007 – UNICEF’s first Advocate for Children Affected by War, Ishmael Beah, has pledged to give a voice and hope to children whose lives have been scarred by violence.
Therapeutic feeding centres tackle malnutrition and save lives in Sierra Leone
LUNSAR, Sierra Leone, 21 June 2007 - Ahmed Fornah plays on his mother’s lap as they wait for his daily nutritional ration and medical check-up at Mabesseneh Hospital. At 15 months of age, Ahmed had one of the most severe cases of malnutrition the doctors said they have ever seen.
Improved, child-friendly schools offer girls a better future in Sierra Leone
KABUICHA, Sierra Leone, 11 June 2007 – Tapping the numbers on the blackboard with a bamboo cane, four-year-old Aster Kamara confidently counts from 1 to 15. It is an impressive performance and she is deservedly applauded by her classmates as she returns to her seat.
Hip-hop documentary brings home clear-cut truths about ‘blood diamonds’
NEW YORK, USA, 2 May 2007 – There’s no end to clichés about diamonds. They’re forever. They’re a girl’s best friend. And recently, the term ‘blood diamonds’ has become commonplace, representing the fact that many armed conflicts in Africa have been funded by the sale of diamonds.
For children in Sierra Leone, poverty and malaria are a deadly combination
MAKENI, Sierra Leone, 25 April 2007 – Lying motionless on her tiny hospital bed, Rachel Fornah, 3, is barely breathing. Her unfocussed eyes appear to see nothing – not the nurse injecting more medicine into the tube attached to her head, nor her mother anxiously stroking her outstretched hand.
UNICEF hosts book launch for Ishmael Beah, former child soldier
NEW YORK, USA, 16 February 2006 – Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone, is no stranger to talking before an audience. He has travelled the world speaking out and galvanizing international efforts to rehabilitate children caught in conflict.
At Paris conference, a former child soldier demands help for children in armed conflict
PARIS, France, 5 February 2007 – A former child soldier from Sierra Leone today implored delegates at an international conference on children and armed conflict to help rehabilitate young people like him.
First children’s newspaper launched in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 18 December 2006 – In an effort to further promote child participation and ensure that the voices of children are heard in national discourse, UNICEF has helped launched ‘Pikin News’ (which translates as ‘Children’s News’), a newspaper developed and produced exclusively by children.
West African children take to the airwaves to make their voices heard
MONROVIA, Liberia and FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 18 December 2006 – This year’s ICDB on 10 December served as clarion call for broadcasters in Liberia and Sierra Leone to engage the voices of young people, providing them with a platform to air their views on reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Measles and malaria campaign in Sierra Leone reaches 800,000-plus
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 28 November 2006 – A national measles and malaria campaign has been successfully carried out in Sierra Leone. An estimated 800,000 children under five have benefited from life-saving interventions during this major nationwide health initiative.
Baby pageant in Sierra Leone: A new strategy to encourage breastfeeding
KONO, Sierra Leone, 2 August 2006 – Proud mothers jealously compare their babies’ layers of firm flesh, holding them up for the midwives and chiefs like prize bulls.
Sierra Leone targets child and maternal mortality
BOMBALI DISTRICT, Sierra Leone, 11 July 2006 – Sinnah Kamara is a young mother in Binkolo, located in northern Sierra Leone’s Bombali district. Although she has two healthy children, she knows how fragile the survival chances of children are in her country.
Nane Annan meets vulnerable girls in Freetown
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 3 July 2006 – Accompanying her husband, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, on his third visit to Sierra Leone, Nane Annan visited a UNICEF-supported centre for vulnerable girls.
Coping with a legacy of violence in Sierra Leone
MAKENI, Sierra Leone, 15 June 2006 – The decade-long war in Sierra Leone, which left 50,000 dead, was one of Africa’s most brutal. Atrocities against women and children were commonplace. The war turned children into drugged killing machines, giving them power beyond their age.
Fatu’s story: Orphaned by AIDS in Sierra Leone, teenage girl cares for her family
ALLEN TOWN, Sierra Leone, 28 March 2006 – Many of the 35,000 orphans in Sierra Leone live in households headed by elderly people, children or adult relatives who are terminally ill. A large number live in dire poverty.
Sierra Leone: Children’s forum takes on trafficking and other concerns
MAKENI, Sierra Leone, 6 March 2006 – In the impoverished town of Makeni, in northern Sierra Leone, teenagers recently engaged in a lively discussion with UNICEF Representative for Sierra Leone Geert Cappelaere. Topping the agenda: the issue of child trafficking.
Taking community schools to children in rural Sierra Leone
BOMBALI DISTRICT, Sierra Leone, 30 December 2005 – The 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone destroyed much of the country’s education infrastructure and denied an overwhelming number the rights of education during the conflict. After the war ended, these children – now over-aged - have enrolled in school, leaving no room for the younger ones.
Dedication is paying off for Sierra Leone’s polio programmes
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 12 December 2005 – Sierra Leone is within reach of meeting its goal of being certified polio free, having just completed the final round of immunizations for this calendar year.
Bringing community schools to children in rural Sierra Leone
MAKENI, Sierra Leone, 28 July 2005 – Children in the village of Makondo recite their lessons in a cramped makeshift schoolroom. They seek shelter from the white heat of the mid-day sun under plastic sheeting, which is held up by wooden poles. Lessons are staggered so they can accommodate the 175 students enrolled – but even so there is barely enough room on the wooden benches.
First ever ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ report for children launched
NEW YORK, 27 October 2004 – The first-ever version of a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ report intended specifically to be accessible by children was officially launched today at United Nations headquarters.