One Day – Hope Shelter

Our HOPE project is about giving girls who have suffered sexual abuse a way back to a normal life as well as giving their babies a fair start in life. Our local team, an NGO (non-governmental organisation) in Sierra Leone, is made up of several social workers and medical personnel, as well as financial and administrative staff. They do an impressive job that has moved us all.The social workers take care of the girls from the moment they arrive at the shelter.

They give these young women a chance to talk, inform them about their rights and help them in dealing with the authorities. Above all, they offer them support.

Viktor, our medical assistant, looks after the young mother and coordinates any required medical treatment during her pregnancy and in preparation for the birth, and subsequently looks after the newborn child as well. Equipped with several beds, our HOPE Shelter offers refuge and a safe environment.

HOPE truly gives hope in the darkest of times. Mother and child have the opportunity to connect with each other. Our social workers also help with this process.

When both mother and child are ready, they are returned to a safe environment within their community. Social workers support this so-called reunification process. The community makes a commitment to take care of both mother and child.

In the following months the mother receives weekly visits to provide ongoing care and to assist her on her path back into education and work. To have changed a human life for the better in a time seemingly without hope – that alone is priceless and worth every effort.

During their stay in the shelter, which we also refer to as a safe home, people in care receive the following support measures:

Picking up the victim from the community (by police or similar)   I   Registration at the shelter     Delivery of a dignity kit (initial supply of hygiene items)   I   3 meals a day for 14 days, depending on the case   I   Medical care   I   Outdoor and indoor entertainment   I   Individual and group therapy   I   Study groups   I   Assistance with going to court and with legal questions   I   Visiting the crime scene and/or identifying the perpetrator in the community   I   Personality training / my body my right   I   Locating family members to prepare for post-Shelter time   I   Family reunions in the community with Reunification Ceremony   I   Educational support for the victim in the shelter and in the community   I   Community education (ACT, PROSOCIAL, FGM, avoidance of stigma)   I   Care before and after the birth   I   Medical measures (e.g. Caesarean section)     Feeding the babies if the mother is unable to breastfeed   I   Workshops on parenting, breastfeeding and mother and child rights