HI works in Sierra Leonne to ensure access to education for all, including children with disabilities. We also work to improve the quality of life and mental health of people suffering from psychosocial distress or living with a mental health disorder. The association is able to respond in the case of emergency as was the case during the 2014 Ebola epidemic.
Children from Sierra Leone having fun | © Federico Saracini / HI
HI has been working in Sierra Leone since 1996. Our first projects were launched to support the victims of one of the most brutal wars in Africa’s recent history, which left thousands of child soldiers traumatised and around 20,000 people maimed as a result of attacks.
When the Ebola epidemic hit Sierra Leone in 2014, HI opted to increase its presence in the country, so that it could continue to provide its expertise in emergency humanitarian operations and protection of the most vulnerable.
Until the end of the epidemic, in March 2016, the organisation managed a fleet of ambulances covering the entire Freetown region (the country’s capital). After Sierra Leone was declared Ebola free, HI supported the survivors through specific rehabilitation care to alleviate their chronic pain.
Since then, HI has resumed its activities in the area of inclusive education, currently running threefour projects that work towards ensuring access to education for all and our project, ‘Touching Minds, Raising Dignity’ is helping people facing mental health challenges. with a focus on children with disabilities and children affected by the Ebola epidemic.
Sierra Leone has known several periods of crisis - it was ravaged by a civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002 and in the spring of 2014, was one of the countries most severely affected by the Ebola epidemic.
The virus infected more than 14,000 people in Sierra Leone, of whom around 4,000 died. The country was declared Ebola-free in the spring of 2016.
In Sierra Leone, around 37% of children are working. This demonstrates the weaknesses of the educational and economic system in the country due to the lack of infrastructure and the level of poverty.
Disabled persons organizations (DPOs) face many challenges. Funding, coordination and leadership are weak, whilst groups representing women and individuals with some form of impairment such as autism are still not really represented.