From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
Sierra Leone News : Women’s Forum Wants Safe Spaces for Girls
By Our Correspondent
Aug 27, 2015, 17:04

The Women’s Forum of Sierra Leone (WFSL) has called for a national policy which will see the establishment of “Safe Spaces” for Adolescent girls in every part of Sierra Leone. The call was made by Mrs. Gladys Hastings-Spaine, General Secretary of the Women’s Forum during a special event to mark the donation of gifts to fifty Ebola survivors in this month of August 2015.

Safe Spaces are specific housing for girls in crisis during which they receive feeding and psycho-social counseling as well as have their Maternal and Reproductive Health taken care of.

One of the donation exercises at a Safe House


During the Ebola crisis which has now stalled, over 300 (three hundred) girls in the Tonkolili and Bombali Districts were kept gainfully occupied for three months during the height of the crisis period through the creation of eight (8) Safe Spaces established through a project entitled as:-”Adolescents Maternal and Reproductive Health in the context of the Ebola Outbreak” and which was funded by UN Women and UNFPA.


At the end of this period, a community ownership of the girls’ welfare has been reestablished through the training of the Reproductive Health Mentors and Peer Educators on Reproductive Health and Life Skills. The “Safe Spaces” are now being manned dutifully and responsibly by these Educators.


The girls regularly listened to the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) School Broadcasts, played games, spent quiet time for reading and studying. Even with the re-opening of schools, the adolescent girls are still making valuable use of the spaces where they still benefit from psychosocial counseling.


Among these girls are orphans and Ebola survivors that the Forum successfully advocated for their support. Fifty (50) survivors, among them ten (10) orphans, were provided with supplies from BRAC and psychosocial counseling in the middle of August 2015. The supplies consisted of bags of rice, packets of soap, litres of cooking oil and variety of clothing etc.


Among the orphans were twins, Fatmata Koroma and Isata Koroma aged 15 years. They are from PateBana Marak, Bombali District. The youngest survivor is three year-old Isata Koroma staying back of Voyager Hotel in Tonkolili who is being taken care of by her father, having lost her mother, grandmother and two other siblings. 


Psychosocial Counseling was rendered to the survivors, who appeared to be very much in need of this psychological support. Also, some of the survivors need regular medical attention as they complained of bodily aches and pains. They are having medical attention from the District Hospitals having been referred there by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs.


The Adolescent Girls were cautioned to take care of themselves by making use of other life skills of critical thinking and assertiveness.


Furthermore, they were implored to take care of themselves, to avoid secluded and dark corners at night so that they would not be victims of violence.


Ms. Fatu Conteh from Madam Rati Safe Space, who gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the girls from Bombali, acclaimed the Women’s Forum for spending their time and energy “walking the walk” with them, blessed BRAC for the supplies and appealed desperately that they are in dire need of support underscoring that to them, Government cannot do everything.


The vote of thanks on behalf of Tonkolili was rendered by Mariatu Conteh from Madam Fatou Kargbo Safe Space who revealed that the girls from Philip Safe Space in Bumbuna performed very well at the last BECE, applauded the Forum for the guidance and prayed that God richly bless the donors.


It was at the end of it all that Mrs. Hastings Spaine opined that, “considering the impact of these Safe Spaces in the lives of Adolescent Girls, the Women’s Forum is advocating desperately for the establishment of “Safe Spaces” for Adolescent Girls all over Sierra Leone.”

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.