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

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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

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WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING?

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Liberia as a nation is still suffering deep social and economic wounds from a civil war that ended in the early 2000s. Violence and assaults are sadly common, with youth turning to crime because they feel hopeless.

Crossroads has sent two shipments in the past to an NGO in Liberia who reach out to children and youth at risk. When they first established, they ran programmes to solve youth crime problems, but they soon realised they had to get to the root of why youth were turning to crime. They decided that education and mentorship were the answers, helping open more doors to youth so that they wouldn’t feel like crime was the only way to survive.

Today, they run a thriving ‘Street Library’, where many of the books, toys, furnishings and technology are from Crossroads’ previous shipments. They also used computers from our last shipment to set up a computer lab to train youth in IT skills. The goods from the shipment were so strategic in furnishing and improving their projects to a high standard that the organisation secured funding from the United Nations to run an additional 6 project across Liberia. “All of this happened because of Crossroads’ support,” they wrote.

Their latest goal has been to establish a vocational training academy for young people in Liberia’s rural centre. They have the land, and have constructed the buildings needed, but they have asked Crossroads for help with goods to bring it to life. Our shipment will include goods for the new training academy, as well as more toys and games to expand their the Street Library, computers, appliances and furniture to equip their various centres, all with the goal of being able to reach more young people with education and training that helps lift them out of poverty.


New vocational training centre

Goods from this shipment will help fill this new vocational training centre with furniture, appliances and other things they need to reach out to rural youth with empowering skills training. The centre will accommodate more than 300 students at a time.


Crossroads’ previous shipment arrived just as our partners were renovating their Street Library. “The learning environment was deplorable,” they said. “Students couldn’t play educational games because of the roughness of the floor and leaking water.” Their staff fixed up the facilities and laid down carpet tiles from Crossroads’ shipment, filled the shelves with new toys and games, and immediately the centre started to draw more children. Their enrolment has already increased by 175 children per week.


WANT TO BE PART OF THESE LIFE CHANGING STORIES?

Sponsor this shipment: We are seeking financial sponsorship to cover the costs of this shipment and others. To donate all or part of the needed funds, see overleaf for account details or email partnerships@crossroads.org.hk

Give goods: We need more good quality laptops or computers for this shipment. If you can help,  email donate@crossroads.org.hk

Help load the container: Bring a team (or just yourself!) to pack goods into the container to help communities in need. Email partnerships@crossroads.org.hk to ask about volunteering.

Reference No. : S4381B

IT skills for youth

“Youth are dying to become computer literate, but they do not have the financial means to get these skills,” wrote our partners.

Young people in Liberia know the opportunities that come through computer education and they know they’re missing out on skills that their peers in more developed communities take for granted.

Computers from Crossroads’ previous shipment have made possible a computer lab where young people can learn these vital skills, leading to better employment options in the future.

This shipment will include more goods for youth vocational training, helping to set up a brand new centre focused on skills training for rural youth.

 

Liberia snapshot

Population: 4.8 million
Capital: Monrovia
Population below international poverty line of US$1.25 per day: 64%

Liberia is Africa’s oldest republic, but it became known in the 1990s for its long-running, ruinous civil war. The conflict involved child soldiers, and it killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Significant programmes are now under way to improve issues such as clean water access, food security and education, however progress is difficult and unemployment and illiteracy remain high across the country.
Source: UNICEF and BBC

 

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