SLIP Committee members Step Up to the Mark

Thanks to SLIP Committee Members, Geraldine Horgan, Joe Manning and Sean Farren for participating in this fund raising event.

From the 11th to 20th October, 2021 we challenged staff and volunteers from the Irish Credit Union movement to join together to ‘virtually’ walk/ run from the League’s office on Mount Street, Dublin to the Foundation’s field office on Fort Street, Sierra Leone.  

This was our first-ever fundraising event, a joint initiative with the League, to raise awareness and funds for the continued development of the credit union movement in Sierra Leone. We were delighted with the response and thank you to everyone who got involved – 463 people registered for the Challenge and we had 53 teams participating from credit unions and the League. It was great to see credit union staff and volunteers from across the island of Ireland get out and get their steps up over the 10 days, and people really did Step Up to the Challenge. 

The goal of the event was to walk 10 million steps – this was achieved within five days – a testament of how credit unions always go above and beyond. In total we walked over 36 million steps, which equates to over 27,000km. We walked enough steps to go to Fort Street in Sierra Leone, back to Mount Street in Dublin and then back to Sierra Leone again! Next year we’ll have to set a bigger challenge.

Thank you to everyone who also fundraised, between registration fees and donations we have raised over €28,000 so far – donations will close on 11th November: This money will support our continued efforts to support the development of the credit union movement in Sierra Leone including training staff and volunteers to provide much-needed access to affordable and ethical savings and loans and empower members to be financially included.A huge thank you to you for getting involved, whether you walked 100 steps or 1 million steps, we were delighted that you stepped up for Sierra Leone!  Thank You,

Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone visits Don Bosco Fambul Project

Members of the Don Bosco Fambul and SLIP met with the Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone Her Excellency, Lesley Ni Bhrian, to discuss ways in which the Irish Government might assist with the work being carried out in Sierra Leone. It was agreed that the Ambassador would visit the Don Bosco Fambul  Project in Freetown.

The visit took place on 12th May 2021 as the Ambassador  visited the new facilities of Don Bosco Fambul at During Town, Western Area Rural District to get a firsthand view of the activities of Don Bosco Fambul in Sierra Leone. The following is a report of that visit written by Father Jorge Mario Crisafulli,  the Director of Don Bosco Fambul.

Ambassador, Fr. Jorge and Staff

Don Bosco Fambul is a local non-governmental Organization registered in 1998 to look into the affairs of child soldiers during the National Commission for Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration programme (NCDDR). Later it restructured its mandate to look at the affairs of street children in Sierra Leone and has created other projects all geared towards changing the lives of young people

The Diplomat had a brief discussion with the Director of Don Bosco Fambul, Father Jorge Mario Crisafulli where a series of issues, including the different projects and services rendered to vulnerable and disadvantaged children were discussed. She was later taken on a conducted tour of all the shelters to see the facilities that are available to the children. During the tour, Father Jorge Crisafulli explained to Madam Lesley the different categories of beneficiaries housed in the various shelters and their level and type of vulnerabilities.

After the conducted tour, the Director explained the focus of each department or project in the organization and what they have been doing over the years to ease the suffering of street children and other vulnerable young people especially girls, who are often forced into prostitution. The Project that was central to all the others,  was Don Bosco Mobil, known as Don Bosco on wheels. The Mobil project has a bus which social workers are using to visiting slum communities and crime prone areas where vulnerable children and young people can be located.

The Don Bosco Fambul Bus as it makes it’s rounds of the city

Don Bosco Mobil has been the conduit between the public and the organization and its importance cannot be overemphasized as it has helped identify vulnerable children and young people in the street whose lives have been transformed over the years by the Project. Many of these  are now useful citizens who are contributing to the socioeconomic development of Sierra Leone.

The Hope Plus Project,is a non-residential project which mainly deals with young adult girls in situations of prostitution and extremely vulnerable school going girls. In January 2021 it graduated 240 girls trained in different skills, including tailoring, hair dressing and catering across various vocational training centres in Freetown. All those graduates were identified in the street by the Mobil project. The Hope Plus project has over the years transformed the lives of close to a thousand young people through skills and formal education. Over the last year the Mobil project has experienced challenges in relation to funding and as a result has had to cut down on its activities in visiting communities to identify vulnerable young people in the streets. Don Bosco Fambul is the biggest child protection agency in Sierra Leone, with the largest, most comfortable and conducive retention facilities. As a result of lack of funding it is experiencing serious challenges in locating vulnerable street children and their numbers are on the increase.

The Ambassador with students of the tailoring class

Madam Lesley Ni Bhrian in her statement afterwards, declared  that she was impressed and overwhelmed by what she saw at the Don Bosco New Land. She described the facilities as a textbook example of  infrastructure for child protection.  She expressed her admiration for what she saw and she praised the Director, management and staff for a wonderful job well done. She urged Don Bosco Fambul to share their experiences with other child protection agencies in order to ease the suffering of children in Sierra Leone.

It is hoped that the Ambassador and the Irish Government may be in a position to provide some financial aid  to assist in this project.

Sierra Leone Independence Day celebration on SLIP

The 27th April 2021 was the 60th Anniversary of Sierra Leone independence. The occasion was celebrated by members and friends of SLIP by a zoom meeting where a number of people spoke about their memories of their time in the country and their hopes for its future.  Rev Dr Sahr John Yambasu, recently elected President-Designate of the Methodist Church also attended and addressed the meeting. We were delighted to be joined by some of the Sierra Leone students who are studying in Ireland. They spoke about their experiences living in Ireland and were very impressive as they outlined how they might help in the development of their country on their return. The meeting was also addressed by two young boys from Sierra Leone who together with their families are living and attending school in Ireland. A PowerPoint presentation showed the connection between Ireland and Sierra Leone which goes back over 150 years and stressed how important it was that this link should be maintained and encouraged. Finally a video was shown of newsreel footage of the Independence Day celebrations in April 1961. The video may be accessed on Youtube by searching for “Sierra Leone Independence Day 1961”.