GIRLS OS!

Assistance to Youth at Risk

In Sierra Leone, the sexual exploitation of girls as well as young women oftentimes ensures the families’ existence. Fathers send their daughters away as prostitutes in order to secure the family’s livelihood. On account of the disastrous medical care, young women annually die from the consequences of their own child’s birth (UN: worldwide highest rate). It is not only that the young women lack preventive health information and education but also that they are borne down by the immense social pressure that they have to be at men’s disposal for their sexual satisfaction anytime.

The extreme material poverty in Sierra Leone (proved by diverse investigations by UNICEF) causes a wide range of physical and psychological consequences. It is particularly young people that suffer from these, among which girls and women are affected most.

GIRLS SHELTER

Due to the fact that the majority of the girls and young women we address are in difficult life situations, i.e. they are homeless, mostly consume drugs, have been experiencing violence or abuse, the Girls Shelter was designed as a retreat and protection area. Around the clock the Girls Shelter offers basic supply and care, like food and drink, showers and laundry facilities, a place to retreat and sleep, and above all opportunities for talking and getting into contact with others. Every day, every hour, time after time – without fear and humiliation. Advice and support: whenever you need it and want it. Target is the reunification with the family of origin including support measures by Don Bosco Fambul or the introduction in a foster family who has been trained and accompanied by Don Bosco Fambul.

The Girls Shelter is made up of four fundamental components or activities:

  • Rest and safety (rest area/sleeping room)
  • Communication and advice (café)
  • Hygiene and health (examination room/showers/washing room)
  • Clearing and the coordination of the support planning/family work (office)

Girls whose life situations have stabilised to some extent continue to be accompanied by professional female social workers. Also the café continues to be open to them any time after the crisis intervention. The management and the staff of the projects keep complaining about the great need for professional help for girls living on the streets. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs as well as organisations like UNICEF encourage Don Bosco Fambul to stay active in this field.