We Yone Child foundation (WYCF) Sierra Leone
In 1996, Santigie Bayo Dumbuya was captured from his village and forced to fight for the Revolutionary United Front during Sierra Leone’s devastating Civil War. He was 12 years old. Over the next 3 years Santigie lived the life of a child soldier – frequently intoxicated and constantly exposed to danger and sickness.
He recalls an incident which took place in 1999 when his unit was fighting on the Guinean border – “the heavy gunfight sounded like music but full of death and sorrow. During the fighting I saw a girl at the age of 5-6 years old crying. I saw two people lying on the ground, one was already dead and the other was struggling to die.” Santigie then remembered his village and the person who he was raised to be – “that was the day of my revolution to change and my heart was inspired”. He dropped his gun and ran through the cross-fire to save the girl. With no food or water, Santigie carried her for two days and two nights to safety.
Santigie escaped the war and, with the help of his family, spent the next 10 years completing his education and working for local NGOs in Freetown. He founded We Yone Child Foundation, literally ‘Our Own’ Child Foundation, in 2009 to ensure that no child experiences the trauma that he and the girl he saved were forced to endure during the Civil War. School, Santigie believes, is the best way to do this.
WYCF now provides primary school education to over 300 children every day in Kroo Bay and George Brook two slum communities in Central Freetown. Our staff and teachers have become a respected and trusted presence in both communities; receiving national press and governmental awards for our work. A good start, we think, but it leaves us with much to do.
WYCF seeks to see better conditions in Kroo Bay and George Brook characterized by great schools, quality housing, and reliable sanitation, access to proper health care, political representation, high employment, high literacy standards, and creativity as their major vision. As such they focus on education which is meant to fight illiteracy and give children a realistic chance of achieving their extraordinary ambitions through child by child. By offering resources to the women in Kroo Bay and George Brook WCFD not only upholds gender equality but also enhances the role of these women in their children’s health and wellbeing. With education, health care, proper nutrition and clothing it is hoped that the children and their families will move away from deprivation and marginalization to being ambassadors of dignity in Sierra Leone.
With a target on the vulnerable children and the men and women and young people living in the Kroo Bay and George Brook communities in Freetown, WYCF has a mission of providing sustainable, high quality education and care to the underprivileged children and empowering the adults and young people.
WYCF mainly focuses on running the community schools, We Yone Child Foundation Kroo Bay Community School and Temple of Faith Primary School in George Brook, which includes running several, departs like school supplies, clothing, summer school programs, and teaching, health and hygiene and daily meals. There has been an improvement in the two schools with collaboration from other stakeholders like Street Child and Developing World Connection (DWC).
· Trained ten CBOs with two participants from each to carry out training and Ebola awareness campaigns at the household level
· Partnered with Street Child, Sierra Leone in feeding/relief programs and house to house Ebola education
· Successful sexual and gender based violence training at Kroo Bay with a former volunteer Sabrena Breher from Germany
· Health and hygiene project successfully conducted in six weeks during the cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2012 targeting both children and parents with help from international and local volunteers
· The people living in the target communities that WYCF works are faced with many challenges which ultimately are a challenge to their work. These challenges include but not limited to
· Less support from local and international volunteers
· Ebola has forced WYCF to divert funds to Ebola Relief and community awareness programs leaving other projects underfunded, as well as causing panic in the schools.
· Poor economic conditions causing children into child labour to provide for the families.
· Unsafe living conditions with poor sanitation and high rates of preventable diseases
· Underage pregnancy and high post-primary school drop-out rates for girls
· Provide teacher training to all teachers
· Complete construction of both A Safe Place in the Hills and A Safe Place on Stilts
· Attain more than 50% financial sufficiency
· Engage the families in small business training and assist them in securing small business grants
· Launch plans to train more teachers, construct more schools and develop more small businesses in Kroo Bay
· Provide ongoing scholarships for junior and secondary level for the children and if possible support them to the university level.