The two faces of the poverty in Sierra Leone – the lack of health care and the lack of justice.
We are conscious of the battering ram of needless deaths which demonstrate all too ably the terrible state of health care in Sierra Leone. Here are a couple of examples of the appalling state of justice:
15 year old girl [she had her birthday a couple of weeks ago] taken from her family in Guinea by an aunt who had no children of her own and wanted to raise her. After some time the aunt got fed up with paying school fees for her and set her to work, despite her previous promises to the girl’s parents. After trying for many weeks to persuade her aunt, the girl, in desperation, stole Le200,000 [approx £40] to pay for her fees and to buy some books [she still has all the receipts.]
The aunt discovered the loss and took her to the police, accused her of stealing Le800,000 and told the police to lock her up.
Whenever her case comes up in court the aunt refuses to attend the session. The court is so ineffective that they have not issued a subpoena. ‘Defence for Children International’ [DCI] whose work it is to protect children in conflict with the law, have shown no interest in her case at all and 4 months later she is still in prison because she had the audacity to want an education despite being a girl in Sierra Leone.
Middle aged mother of three [aged six, twelve and seventeen] comes from Guinea to Sierra Leone to visit family and undertake some trading. The police do a raid of the area she is staying in and fail to catch the marijuana traders so collect anyone they can to satisfy their bosses that they have not been sleeping. She has no lawyer, no powerful friends and no justice. She has been given a twenty year sentence and has not seen her children for years.
Justice is imperfect in all countries. In Sierra Leone, it is non-existent.
EducAid hopes to be able to help by a. providing classes to the women while they are in custody [contracted by AdvocAid]; b. providing a home and education for the 15 year old as soon as a means can be found to get her discharged; c. providing a home and education to the children of the 2nd woman so that she has at least some peace of mind as to her children’s future while she is not there to protect them.
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid’s work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to www.educaid.org.uk