Deputy Director of Children’s Affairs in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA), Mrs. Joyce Kamara, has observed that psychosocial support was crucial for vulnerable children in Sierra Leone.
She made the above statement during the launch of the Psychosocial Support (PSS) toolkit last Friday at the New Brookfield’s Hotel in Freetown.
The Deputy Children’s Director said there were dozens of children who lost their parents either to the Ebola Virus Disease or to other natural causes, and that most of them were now seen in dumpsites or walking with blind beggars in the Streets of Freetown.
“PSS should assist the vulnerable with skills, help them to be safe and do things as normal. PSS is relevant now and it’s the only way forward,” she said.
She added that a psychosocial counselor should first help an individual to understand a problem and that they would cope if they accept it.
She disclosed that during the Ebola outbreak, the Ministry of Social Welfare developed a training manual and made copies available to all child protection officials across the country.
“We also provided a national mental health psychosocial support to affected persons. We trained 9000 teachers throughout the country during the Ebola outbreak. The PSS is a strong weapon that would make Ebola survivors and affected persons achieve their potentials,” she said.
“I recently visited a local community in Kambia district and engaged 66 households. They told us what they went through and the humanitarian assistance they received during the outbreak. A woman who lost her husband and child during the outbreak explained her story about the stigma she faced in her village,” he said.
He noted that the people of that village needed strong and serious humanitarian support even though they were seemingly healthy and strong.
Explaining his experience, Mohamed Kuyateh, a PSS service provider from Rogbangba village, said after receiving training from Trocaire, he went into the communities and talked to residents and that they told him about incidences of teenage pregnancy and divorce among couples in the community.
“They told me that they lost their jobs while some of them engaged in alcoholism and violence,” he said.
He said others shared their experiences either as Ebola survivors or those that were indirectly affected by the outbreak.