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The Challenge 

The Action

Trauma

Trauma

Mentors

Many of our beneficiaries come to us with a traumatic past that involved violence, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect, cultural or community exclusion (particularly known in the context of 'Ebola orphans' in our West Africa programmes), or traumatic bereavement of close family or childhood friends.  The civil war in Sierra Leone left behind a damaging cross-generational impact from the atrocities witnessed or experienced directly by parents and grandparents - most left untreated.   With no or little access to services that safeguard and protect young people affected by these conditions,  many continue to be left behind and at risk of being affected by - or the continuation of,  some of the learnt behaviours of the past.   Some of our beneficiaries attend our programmes with no secure home, adult relatives or carers to depend on.

Sport Therapy Sport and creative enrichment can help enable young victims to develop skills, strength and confidence - and unblock pathways to the future they deserve. It is widely acknowledged that through inclusivity and sport we can achieve outcomes that cross frontiers. We believe that all of our beneficiaries feel strong and more ready to take on the challenges ahead of them.

Child Protection Inter-Agency Approach  ​ It is essential that girls are allowed to grow and develop, learn and be happy  - free from any stigma regardless of their circumstances.   We also recognise the need for emotional support and can connect social workers to provide qualified psycho-social support.   ​ In consultation with child-protection agencies we ensure that all of our staff are regularly trained to the highest standards possible for child safeguarding and protection. ​​ We regularly teach beneficiaries how to stay away from harm or abuse using the NSPCC's PANTS framework and teaching resources.

FGM

The Challenge

FGM (Female Genital Mutilation or 'Female Circumcision')

Girls In Sport cannot provide an answer to FGM, however we work with children, teenagers and their families to promote equality and gender equity through a holistic enrichment approach in our programming, and community soft power.   Together with a growing trend in global awareness against FGM, we hope the impact of better literacy and programmes such as ours that seek to close gender inequality, more communities will challenge the practice.

FGM Cutter

 The Challenge

The Action

Period Poverty

Period Poverty

Everyday there are girls starting their periods. Due to extreme poverty and the taboo of menstruation girls miss out. On average, a teenage girl will miss at least 50 days of school every year because of their period. ​ Participation in physical activity and sport become a distant dream for many girls once they've hit puberty.  ​ According to a study by UNICEF in 2012 'In Sierra Leone, UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, examined menstrual hygiene management in schools in six rural districts. The research revealed that while the majority of female students interviewed believe that menstruation is a normal part of growing up, 21.3 per cent report that they miss school when they have their menstrual periods. Nearly one third of girls also reported that they prefer not to stand up in the classroom to answer questions when they have their periods...'

We want to ensure that no girls are held back from class or sport because of a period. When a girl is enabled to participate, she is confident, more independent and without unnecessary barriers.

Period Kits  ​ We work with agencies and cluster partners to provide period kits to all of our female beneficiaries upon enrolment. ​ Education ​ Working with families, we provide PSHE themed sessions that are gender, culturally and age appropriate to ensure that understanding periods is not taboo for any girl or boy. ​ WASH Management on-site ​ Adequate WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) is intrinsic to the physical infrastructure of our programmes. Functioning latrines that not only provide privacy but are also gender appropriate are essential to mitigating unnecessary absences.    ​ Help enable a girl to participate. Donate just £10 and you could provide a girl with clean sanitary products for a whole year. ​

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GBV

The Challenge

Gender Based Violence (GBV)

1 in 3 girls under 18 years old in Sierra Leone will fall pregnant, or experience serious health issues as a result of rape or coerced transactional sex. A culture of impunity against a landscape where male dominated peers is the norm, from the classroom where positions of trust are abused and grades are considered a currency, to local police and community representatives,  has led to a national crisis of sexual assault.

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Caregiving & Low Life Expectancy

The Challenge 

The Action

Caregiving & Low Life Expectancy

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We work with local partners, social workers and families to identify the most vulnerable.  This is why we foster a comprehensive intake of beneficiaries that adapts to the demographical variances of the community.   ​ We mandate many children to the programme who are responsible for dependants and also provide a safe space for younger siblings to thrive, so that no child is left behind.  ​

Many girls drop out of continued learning and sport completely to carry the burden of caregiving from as early as puberty, often even younger. There are many reasons why child caregivers are a regular feature in Sierra Leone - many orphaned as a result of the low life expectancy which is among the lowest in the world.  By 2017 the average life expectancy at birth was only 52/54 (World Health Organisation, 2019). Despite best efforts from overseas aid agencies to fill gaps, under-development and low GDP markedly restrict access to care-services and support for orphaned children.

Ebola

The Challenge

Ebola - The Legacy

The Action

We provide a safe, protected environment for orphaned children, young carers and victims of harm.

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CHILD PROTECTION INTER-AGENCY APPROACH ​ It is essential that girls are allowed to grow and develop, learn and be happy  - free from any stigma regardless of their circumstances.  We also recognise the need for emotional support and can connect social workers to provide qualified psycho-social support.   In consultation with child-protection agencies we ensure that all of our staff are regularly trained to the highest standards possible for child safeguarding and protection. ​ We regularly teach beneficiaries how to stay away from harm or abuse using the NSPCC's PANTS framework and teaching resources. ​ ​ ​ INCLUSIVITY  ​ It is widely acknowledged that through inclusivity and sport we can achieve outcomes that cross frontiers. We believe that all of our beneficiaries feel strong and ready to take on the challenges ahead of them in the wider community as a result of their participation in sport, access to literacy, and creative expression.  ​

During the 2014 Ebola crisis, girls and older children were left caring for younger siblings with no surviving adult relatives to turn to.  Some village populations in entirety were affected as the disease ravaged through communities. The year-long quarantine left survivors isolated, banned from of any movement to travel, visit relatives, or attend school and trade. With no adult relatives or access to protection networks, many young girls became victims of sexual violence.   ​ ​ Already stigmatised as 'ebola orphans', girls became disenfranchised from class due to the stigma of childhood and teen pregnancy - some forced to marry their abuser.

Civil War

 The Challenge

Civil War - A Lost Generation

Women were particularly affected by the generational deficit in education and literacy as a result of the civil war, that devastated infrastructure during the conflict of the 1990's, the so called 'blood diamond' war.  This is particularly endemic up-country, beyond the hustle of the predominantly Krio speaking Freetown Peninsular. Whilst government policy has taken great strides in recent years to make education compulsory to primary level, the cross-generational impact of the war continues to greatly affect social mobility. Sadly, girls living in households where parents are illiterate are far less likely to make it through primary education.

The Action

Adult literacy initiatives

We recognise the need to break the cycle of illiteracy also extends to adult literacy, so we widened our programme to offer free access to adult literacy workshops for all of our beneficiary parents.

Modern Slavery

The Challenge

Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking

Each year, thousands of Sierra Leoneans – including children – are trafficked for forced labour or sexual exploitation in and outside Sierra Leone. Many go on the so-called ‘Temple Run’ to escape poverty, falling victim to traffickers who demand as much as USD 2,500 for fake educational or employment opportunities. (UN, March 2020)  ​ According to UNHCR, Sierra Leone is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Traffickers recruit victims largely from rural provinces to urban and mining centers for exploitation in sex trafficking and forced labor in domestic service, artisanal diamond and granite mining, petty trading, portering, making ceramics, rock breaking, quarrying, street crime, and begging. Traffickers exploit victims in fishing and agriculture, and sex trafficking or forced labor through customary practices, such as forced marriages. Traffickers typically operate individually, convincing parents to hand over their children and promising to provide an education or better life but instead exploiting the children in trafficking. Children from neighbouring West African countries have been exploited in forced begging, forced labor, and sex trafficking in Sierra Leone, and Sierra Leonean children are taken to Mali, Niger, and increasingly Guinea for forced labor and sex trafficking. An increasing number of traffickers, including family members, tried to sell Sierra Leonean children for domestic servitude. Sierra Leonean-Kuwaiti trafficking networks increasingly fraudulently recruit Sierra Leoneans for education in Europe and the United States but subject them to domestic servitude in Kuwait.   Traffickers also exploit Sierra Leonean women in domestic servitude in Egypt and Lebanon. An international organisation recently repatriated at least 186 Sierra Leoneans from Libya, some of whom were victims of slavery and sex trafficking. It also reported that some Libyan soldiers sold stranded Sierra Leonean migrants in their custody to Libyan and Middle Eastern traffickers. (RefWorld, June 2018) ​

The Action

Three Tier Inter-Agency Approach   Mitigate,  Co-operate, Eliminate

Multi-causal factors including poverty and illiteracy leave young people extremely vulnerable to trafficking and modern slavery.   ​ Our programmes  are designed to promote a holistic syllabus of child protection and safeguarding, equality and fostering aspiration and opportunity to mitigate these risks.  Through education and advocacy integrated with safeguarding practices in our communities, we want to see an end to these harms.  ​ As part of our child protection alert system, our staff are trained to identify risks to our beneficiaries and  co-operated with local protection services and partner NGO's to safeguard against trafficking and modern slavery.   ​ Our team of local staff are present within the programme communities to work with and consult families and wider community networks, to provide a robust framework of protection and prevention against risks.  ​ We provide or help facilitate through specialist services appropriate psycho-social support to beneficiaries suffering from trauma, as well as working with victims of trauma and families to provide additional enrichment and literacy support through our programmes that we believe help lead to better life options.

Girls in Sport International Day for Sport Development and Peace

The Challenge 

The Action

Restricted Access to Land & Property

Restricted Access to Ownership of Land & Property

Women's Funding Circles Girls in Sport Sierra Leone

Existing and traditional barriers to ownership rights and decision-making is indicative of a patrilineal system that unfairly discriminates against women, who tend to take on more traditional domestic roles. Many Communities in Sierra Leone and West Africa are customarily underpinned by norms where these trends are deeply embedded within society. There is a strong correlation between restriction to land and ownership rights and pathways to positions of leadership - trends often associated with illiteracy and poor gender-parity.

Soft Power From The Grassroots

The Skills To Champion Change

We want our communities to feel enabled to forge pathways that are underpinned by our core values - Equality and Opportunity.  ​ Through a participatory approach to programme delivery,  and inclusivity in delivering sport and literacy in the community, girls [and boys] gain the currency and language skills to negotiate and persuade as adults. ​ Alongside inclusivity in sport many of our enrichment sessions involve scenario based drama, art, music and creative skills to teach our beneficiaries about gender and leadership, assertion and confidence to influence positive ways of doing things in their own communities. We believe that access to these skills, in addition to the impact of the mainstream education sector over the past few years, will enable young people to steward their own lives, fully equipped into adulthood as equals in society.  ​ We also believe that inspiration is intrinsic to getting our beneficiaries to engage, so we regularly invite female role models from positions of leadership to participate with, and deliver our activities. ​ Our ethos fosters a culture that enables female strength, so we hope that many of our beneficiaries can become decision-makers whatever they choose to achieve,  and to champion values that recognise the contribution of boys and girls as equally capable individuals. We believe it is these values that can lead to the fair distribution of rights and more balanced attribution of roles in their lives and communities.

Girls in Sport Beneficiaries
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