Transforming Sierra Leone, One Child at a Time
Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Fambul have been working on behalf of Sierra Leone’s most vulnerable children since 1998, when they first arrived in the capital city of Freetown in the midst of the country’s brutal civil war. Beginning with their programs to rehabilitate former child soldiers, and assist girls and boys left orphaned and homeless by the war, missionaries have since grown their services to such an extent that Don Bosco Fambul has become one of Sierra Leone’s leading child welfare organizations.
Led by Father Jorge Crisafulli and a dedicated staff of 120, most of whom are social workers, the organization is renowned for their unwavering work on behalf of homeless, trafficked and imprisoned youth—as well as for those orphaned during the Ebola epidemic, and victimized by natural and man-made disasters.
“Amid so many dire calamities in Sierra Leone, Don Bosco Fambul remains at the forefront, fighting for the health and safety of marginalized children and their families,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Rather than succumbing to the suffocating despair driven by the torrent of social, economic and natural disasters that seem to constantly bombard the country, this Salesian facility advances faithfully as a grounded beacon of hope and a steady support system for those who need it most.”
And these efforts are paying off, in ways that promise to reverse the tide of systemic poverty, violence and despair that have crippled Sierra Leone for so long.
“At Don Bosco Fambul, children are empowered to recognize and achieve their full potential, and to fulfill their calling to enact positive change in their own communities,” explains Fr. Mark. As a result, many former recipients of the organization’s services have joined Don Bosco Fambul’s staff—and are inspiring the next generation of marginalized youth to work toward a more hopeful future.
For example, the current coordinator of Don Bosco Fambul’s rehabilitation program for street children is a former street child himself. A woman who cooks at the Girl’s Shelter—a home for exploited, abused and trafficked children and young women—once lived, and learned her trade, in that same shelter. The young man who manages a group home for released prisoners was an inmate himself. And a girl who relied on Don Bosco Fambul for shelter, food, counseling and education after running away from an abusive father is now studying to become a social worker so she can help others who have experienced similar traumas.
“These remarkable young people provide a glimpse into what Sierra Leone is capable of, when given the right opportunities,” says Fr. Mark. “In leading by example, their stories continue to inspire other youth to seek us out, transform their lives, and work toward positive change.”
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