Friday, August 05 2011
International Development minister Stephen O'Brien MP has praised a new Conservative partnership with a UK charity helping street children in Sierra Leone.
The party's social action initiative Project Umubano has teamed up with charity Street Child of Sierra Leone (SCoSL), who offer support and funding to get children off the streets.
Working in a personal capacity as a volunteer, O'Brien visited the country's capital Makeni to join Conservative volunteers involved in the charity's education programme.
Working alongside local teachers, the volunteers are teaching some of the 120 street children currently undergoing classes at the charity's centre to prepare themselves for a return to school in September.
O'Brien led a class of children whose lessons will help to assess the level at which they can join formal education.
Street Child of Sierra Leone aims to reduce the number of children living their lives on the streets of Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world. Homeless children as young as ten often survive through child labour or prostitution. Some have never been to school.
O'Brien said: "I've had an amazing experience seeing the effect that Street Child of Sierra Leone is having here in Makeni.
"Street Child is a prime example of a clear focus and a clear initiative that is yielding results and where the impact will of course transmit to generations to come. I believe today I've seen something that could well be used as an example that we can take elsewhere and indeed scale up significantly here in Sierra Leone."
Project Umubano are the largest group of volunteers to ever assist with the charity's child development work in Sierra Leone.
Project coordinator Jono Broom commented: "A chance meeting with the charity earlier this year gave us the perfect opportunity to expand and include a team working directly with the community, something our sister project in Rwanda has been doing for five years.
"Our trip has been a huge success. Our work has already expanded to assist with the charity's efforts in Magbaraka and we are looking forward to extending the breadth of our work across more of their educational programmes next year."
Street Child of SL founder Tom Dannatt added: "We've been delighted to host members of the Project Umubano team these last two weeks; they have had a huge impact both on the children that they've been teaching and upon the work that we are trying to achieve as a whole in Makeni.
"The teaching element of our programme is an essential part in the rehabilitation of a street child, whilst we undertake the delicate process of trying to reintegrate these kids with their families.
"We believe that education is an essential part of their development, and Project Umubano's involvement has therefore played a key role in helping to attain a secure future for the children that they have been working with."
Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 30 Millbank, London, SW1P 4DP