WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING?

The civil war through the 1990s in Sierra Leone killed between 70,000 – 300,000 people. Today, for thousands of survivors, the trauma and lasting effects of this brutal war continue. Tens of thousands of people lost limbs in the conflict, whether intentionally cut off in violent attacks, or lost accidentally by landmines or gunshot wounds. Life for these amputees has been particularly difficult in Sierra Leone. They feel stigmatised, have often lost out on valuable years of education, and can be excluded from employment and social life because of their disabilities.

We’re shipping to an NGO that was founded by one of these amputees. Having lost his left arm in the war, he knows the uphill battle that people with disabilities are facing in his community. He saw that many amputees felt hopeless, and couldn’t find ways to support themselves beyond begging. So, he started an organisation that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities and offers training in the kinds of skills that empower people to start their own businesses and support themselves.

They now run training programmes in hairdressing, tailoring, metalwork, electrical repairs and weaving, and have seen their graduates move from a life begging on the street to one of self-sufficiency and dignity.

They have asked us for a shipment that will help them continue and expand their programmes. They especially hope, with our support, to open a new ICT centre that can train young people with disabilities in computer skills, as well as other exciting new projects.


Our partners teach employable skills like tailoring, hairdressing (left), electrical repairs and weaving to people who have lost limbs in the war, or have other disabilities.

A hand up, not a hand out

James knows the dignity that comes with having a secure job, and earning a sustainable income. James was left with a disability after contracting polio, and found it very difficult to find a job. After going through a tailoring course with our partners, he now earns an income making and selling clothes. “I used to wait for a handout from people,” he said. “I’m an independent man now and can contribute to society.”


Jestina’s story

Jestina was one of the thousands badly injured in Sierra Leone’s civil war. During the conflict, between 4,000 and 10,000 people lost arms, legs, hands, fingers, ears or feet hacked off by fighters. Thousands also suffered landmine or gunshot wounds, losing limbs.  In post-conflict Sierra Leone, it’s hard enough for able-bodied people to find a job. For those with a disability like Jestina, it can be impossible, and many turn to begging on the streets as their only means of survival.

Thankfully, Jestina found hope in our partners’ job training programmes for people with disabilities. She is now a fully trained dressmaker, and is earning an income to support herself and two children. It’s a huge relief to Jestina that she can make her own money without needing to beg. Her perspective on life has totally changed. “I never knew there was ‘ability’ in ‘disability’!” she says.

This shipment will include goods to support our partners’ training programmes, helping more like Jestina.


Advocacy for people with disabilities is an important part of our partners’ work in Sierra Leone. They empower those with disabilities to understand and stand up for their rights, as well as educating the community to accept and celebrate diversity. 

Reference No : S4352A
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Donate Now!

Donate to a shipment like this one.

DONATE MONEY

Donate Goods!

Want to donate goods for a shipment like this one?

DONATE GOODS

Sierra Leone Snapshot

Population: 7.5 million
Capital: Freetown
Main languages: English (official), Mende, Temne, Krio

Sierra Leone is situated on the Atlantic coast in West Africa. It has a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests. The country is rich in resources but economically impoverished, with 60% living below the national poverty line. The country was devastated by a civil war through the 1990s, which killed between 70,000 – 300,000 people and left many thousands of people missing limbs, ears or fingers. Youth unemployment is very high.
Source: UNDP, World Bank

Our food-saving superheroes

Every day, 3,600 tonnes of food waste are sent to landfill in Hong Kong, according to Feeding Hong Kong. Meanwhile, people...

read more ...

Recycling artisans make good news in Sri Lanka

When Sri Lankan artist Sagara Ranga Liyanage decided to start a handicrafts business, he had to think outside the box. "I...

read more ...

GoodCity: Multiplying kindness

“I don’t want to throw this stuff out. I want it to go to someone who needs it. If only there...

read more ...

Battling Covid-19 together

COVID: SAME STORM, DIFFERENT BOATS  “This pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society,” Melinda Gates said of Covid-19. She adds:...

read more ...

WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING?

Sierra Leone has faced multiple tragedies in recent decades, and our partners on this shipment have been walking with those suffering, every step of the way. During the 11 years of war in Sierra Leone, they helped more than 600 displaced people with medical care, food, clothes and counselling. When entire villages were burnt, they helped rebuild homes. When Ebola devastated the nation in 2014, killing thousands, our partners supported impoverished families with food packs and nutritional care to help people stay as healthy as possible. Then, in 2017 when mudslides caused the deaths of 1,000 people and displaced 3,000, they were there yet again, with relief goods and educational support for children who had been evacuated (see story below).

As well as responding to disasters, these partners know that through education, training and job creation, communities become stronger and more resilient to future disasters. “People can’t afford their basic needs, like clothes or shoes. They eat whatever they raise for the day, with nothing in reserve,” they wrote. Their projects aim to move vulnerable communities from this subsistence lifestyle to a more sustainable one. They have four primary schools, a secondary school and a job skills training centre, as well as a computer school for underprivileged youth and a health clinic. They have asked for goods to equip all their projects, including computers, furniture, clothing and educational supplies and equipment.


Aminata’s story

Nearly 4,000 people died in Sierra Leone during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, leaving broken and traumatised families behind. Aminata’s was one of them. When both Aminata’s parents died of Ebola, it left her the head of her small household. Suddenly, she and her three siblings had nobody to care for them. They became homeless and dropped out of school, not knowing what the future might hold.

Our partners met Aminata and came alongside her. She wanted to get a job so that her brother and two sisters, at least, could return to school and finish their education. Staff helped Aminata start a small restaurant business where, over time, she has been so successful that she is not just supporting her own siblings, but is able to help other young girls who were once vulnerable like herself.

Aminata’s is just one of many stories  showing how these partners consistently look for the needs of individuals and groups in their community, and find solutions that lead to more sustainable futures.

We are pleased to be shipping goods to help in the administration of their outreach programmes intervening in the lives of more families like Aminata’s.


A new school for flood evacuees
In 2017, Sierra Leone made headlines when severe mudslides and flooding killed over 1,000 people and left 3,000 homeless. Our partners leapt into action, offering food and other immediate aid to people who had lost everything.

Then, as villagers began to move into new homes provided by the government, they saw that there was no school for children of evacuated families. They rallied support through their network, and successfully built a new school, now home to 250 students.

Goods from this shipment will help our partners respond quickly when disasters hit, with both immediate relief and longer term support.


Flooding, landslides, disease and conflict have all taken their toll on Sierra Leonean communities. Our partners are well-placed to give immediate help in times of disaster, but also run schools and training projects that are helping  equip children and young people to find more stable employment and build stronger communities.


Reference No : S5199
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Donate Now!

Donate to a shipment like this one.

DONATE MONEY

Donate Goods!

Want to donate goods for a shipment like this one?

DONATE GOODS

Sierra Leone snapshot

Population: 7.6 million
Capital: Freetown
Main languages: English (official), Mende, Temne, Krio

Sierra Leone is situated on the Atlantic coast in West Africa. It has a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests. The country is rich in resources but economically impoverished, with 60% living below the national poverty line. The country was devastated by a civil war which destroyed much of the infrastructure and, more recently, struck by the Ebola outbreak causing another humanitarian crisis. 70% of youth are unemployed or underemployed.
Source: UNDP

Our food-saving superheroes

Every day, 3,600 tonnes of food waste are sent to landfill in Hong Kong, according to Feeding Hong Kong. Meanwhile, people...

read more ...

Recycling artisans make good news in Sri Lanka

When Sri Lankan artist Sagara Ranga Liyanage decided to start a handicrafts business, he had to think outside the box. "I...

read more ...

GoodCity: Multiplying kindness

“I don’t want to throw this stuff out. I want it to go to someone who needs it. If only there...

read more ...

Battling Covid-19 together

COVID: SAME STORM, DIFFERENT BOATS  “This pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society,” Melinda Gates said of Covid-19. She adds:...

read more ...

The Refugee All Stars, recorded by record label Epitaph Europe B.V., began with a group of six musicians who lived in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, during the era of the country’s horrifying civil war. In a rebel campaign named ‘Operation Kill Every Living Thing’, soldiers descended on Freetown and caused a panicked mass exodus, with thousands of civilians fleeing the region, and ending up in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. It was in one of these camps that the six musicians found each other and began singing songs of hope, pain and freedom for their fellow refugees. Today the group has returned to Freetown, recorded CDs, been the subject of an internationally-acclaimed documentary, and joined hands with many other musicians, still advocating for refugee issues through their uplifting, buoyant songs that speak the African refugee story.

 

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Our food-saving superheroes

Every day, 3,600 tonnes of food waste are sent to landfill in Hong Kong, according to Feeding Hong Kong. Meanwhile, people...

read more ...

Recycling artisans make good news in Sri Lanka

When Sri Lankan artist Sagara Ranga Liyanage decided to start a handicrafts business, he had to think outside the box. "I...

read more ...

GoodCity: Multiplying kindness

“I don’t want to throw this stuff out. I want it to go to someone who needs it. If only there...

read more ...

Battling Covid-19 together

COVID: SAME STORM, DIFFERENT BOATS  “This pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society,” Melinda Gates said of Covid-19. She adds:...

read more ...

When the wounding is done, and you are left alone and bleeding, where can you turn in a war torn environment?

With your country impoverished by years of fighting, it probably won’t have the resources to help you. With the conflict over, the world has turned its back on your country, so little help may be forthcoming from international aid. With your family and friends dead or destitute, you may have few, or no, individuals to turn to. What options, then, are left? 2009 saw the publication of a book by a young war victim in Sierra Leone whose story has stunned readers and earned multiple awards.

Mariatu Kamara, at 12 years old, lived securely at home with her family. Although there was talk of war elsewhere in the country, her family had no indication that it was coming near them. So it was with confidence that she set out on a journey to a neighbouring village. Tragically, though, she was never to complete that journey.

On that path, she found herself confronted by rebel soldiers, some close to her own age, who were used to their powerful weapons and very adept at torture. For them, it was probably no more than another moment in a day as they cut off both her hands. For her, life was changed forever.

Mariatu, bleeding but alive, set out to find a shelter away from the fighting. As it happened she encountered a man on her journey who, out of kindness, offered her a mango. That simple act became a defining moment for her. The taste of the mango brought back to her the beauty of the life she had loved and lost, and motivated her to find a way to live again.

With blood streaming from her arms, she insisted on holding the mango herself: proof of her determination to work past the loss that had left her disabled. She would later call her story, ‘The Bite of the Mango.’

The book recounts the way Mariatu reached a refugee camp, collected survival money by begging in the streets of Freetown, and eventually, found her way to Canada. She is now an international speaker on behalf of people recovering from war.

There are few voices for those in post conflict situations and the agony they find forging a new life. Mercy Ships, a UK NGO that is part of the Global Hand network, is an exception. It provides free medical healthcare as part of its sustainable development support for the poorest nations of the world, through the use of hospital ships.

Mercy Ships has established a land-based centre in Freetown, the nation’s capital. The conflict left some 50,000 dead, and thousands more maimed or mutilated. The New Steps Centre in Freetown provides physical therapy and the creation of assistive devices as well as health care services, personal and community development projects.

So, when Mercy Ships saw an offer of crutches on Global Hand, they responded enthusiastically. These were, as it turns out, not just any crutches. Cool Crutches is a UK company that was set up by Clare Braddell when her daughter broke her back and was forced to use those supplied by the National Health Service. Their website promises coloured crutches that are funky and comfortable, helping boost people’s morale as well as supporting their mobility. The organisation sent out the crutches to Mercy Ships in pre-paid heavy-duty polythene bags.

imagelink_sierraleoneAs a Mercy Ships spokesman put it: “It’s an easy way to make a big difference.” They subsequently fitted members of the Single Leg Amputee Sports Club in Freetown at the New Steps Centre with the ‘cool crutches’ (photo, left). Many members of the club lost limbs in the war, but rather than dwell on the past, are using this opportunity to bring hope and inspiration to their country through sport.

Clare was grateful for the opportunity to partner with Mercy Ships. “Global Hand got us together”, she said. “Although I had heard of Mercy Ships, I didn’t click that they would be the perfect partnership for us. Mercy Ships need hundreds of pairs of crutches for war zones around the world, particularly Sierra Leone at the moment. If buyers of Cool Crutches could be bothered to go to the post office, when they are better, they might feel good about themselves, particularly if Cool Crutches pays the postage, and has labelled the bag, so that all they have to do is seal it!”

People of Mariatu’s ilk are an inspiration. Her very life is testimony to the fact that hope, even in the most wretched of times, can yet be found. At Global Hand, we consider the very least we can do is resource those willing to battle the odds and start over.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Our food-saving superheroes

Every day, 3,600 tonnes of food waste are sent to landfill in Hong Kong, according to Feeding Hong Kong. Meanwhile, people...

read more ...

Recycling artisans make good news in Sri Lanka

When Sri Lankan artist Sagara Ranga Liyanage decided to start a handicrafts business, he had to think outside the box. "I...

read more ...

GoodCity: Multiplying kindness

“I don’t want to throw this stuff out. I want it to go to someone who needs it. If only there...

read more ...

Battling Covid-19 together

COVID: SAME STORM, DIFFERENT BOATS  “This pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society,” Melinda Gates said of Covid-19. She adds:...

read more ...

Musa, just nine years old, has cerebral palsy and spends his life in a wheelchair. The little boy lives in rural Sierra Leone, a nation where the average person can expect to live to around 48 years of age. Musa’s short life began with trauma. His mother was seriously sick during her pregnancy, and suffered a bad fall, with her growing belly taking the weight of the fall. A short time later, Musa was born prematurely, in a difficult birth, which doctors believe could have caused his brain damage.

Following Sierra Leone’s devastating war, hundreds of thousands of people in the nation were left with no proper housing. Musa’s family – himself, his brother, his two sisters and his mother, a widow – live in a single room mud dwelling where, until recently, Musa was hardly given any attention because of his disabilities. His mother plants and sells vegetables from which she feeds and takes care of the welfare of her children, but it is a pitifully meager income for a family with special needs such as Musa’s.

While Musa’s body is disabled, his mind is as active as any other child. In normal circumstances, a child in rural Sierra Leone living in such poverty would have no hope of going to school. He may have no hope of a proper wheelchair, instead, forced to crawl around or move on a board with wheels. Instead, Musa’s family was taken on by a non-profit organisation that works in his area. They help families like Musa to send their children to school, learn about hygiene, HIV/Aids prevention, proper nutrition, and even build houses for those who have no shelter, and toilets in communities that previously had unsanitary, disease-ridden facilities.

The organisation now provides financial support for Musa’s education, medication, rehabilitation and other social needs. The difference in the little boy’s future simply cannot be measured. His family see him with a new respect, thanks to the care and training from staff workers. After Musa completes his education, they want to see him trained in job skills, that will let him contribute to the family income and his community. He has been given a chance at a normal life that his family could never have afforded on their own, and it’s a story that is repeated over and over again in Sierra Leone because of the work of this organisation.

The organisation has asked us for a container of goods that will let them help more families like Musa’s. They want to expand their work, to serve more communities and in different ways. The kinds of goods that Crossroads is preparing to send them will help almost every section of their work – preschool, primary school and high school educational supplies, their work with health clinics, their administration offices, and their programs training young people to be community educators themselves.
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Give Now!

Donate to a shipment like this one.

DONATE MONEY

Donate Goods!

Want to donate goods for a shipment like this one?

DONATE GOODS

Our food-saving superheroes

Every day, 3,600 tonnes of food waste are sent to landfill in Hong Kong, according to Feeding Hong Kong. Meanwhile, people...

read more ...

Recycling artisans make good news in Sri Lanka

When Sri Lankan artist Sagara Ranga Liyanage decided to start a handicrafts business, he had to think outside the box. "I...

read more ...

GoodCity: Multiplying kindness

“I don’t want to throw this stuff out. I want it to go to someone who needs it. If only there...

read more ...

Battling Covid-19 together

COVID: SAME STORM, DIFFERENT BOATS  “This pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society,” Melinda Gates said of Covid-19. She adds:...

read more ...