The initiative is part of the project "Mobile Unit for the Protection of children at risk on the streets of Freetown, Sierra Leone" funded by AEXCID, Extremadura Agency for International Cooperation for Development.
The bus departed from the port of Lisbon on Monday 13 February. When it arrives in Freetown, it will be taken over by the Salesians. They have been present in the African country for over 30 years and have 18 years of experience with street children.
People who leave rural areas in search of more dignified living conditions for their children constantly go to Freetown. Very often many minors end up working as domestic servants. Mafias deceive families living in rural areas with false promises. Also many parents force children into prostitution or sell them in markets to help the family economically. In addition, many children have been orphaned because of the epidemic of Ebola that caused 4,000 deaths. The result is that thousands of children living on the streets of Freetown badly suffer malnutrition, diseases, abuse, labor exploitation and sexual violence as well as being deprived of opportunities for the future.
The bus will travel to the poorest neighborhoods of Freetown to become a reference point for the at-risk child population. On board there will be health personnel and social workers who have experience with street children. Among the services available: food, clothes and showers, medical and basic health care. Children will also receive psychosocial care, participate in games, excursions and workshops. One of the most important goals of Mobile Unit is the prevention of risk situations and the children's relocation with their parents or with foster families.
Source: Fides Agency