Caritas Sierra Leone was established in 1981 by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sierra Leone with the mandate to serve as the relief and development wing of the Catholic Church in Sierra Leone. Most of the agency’s efforts during the 1990′s concentrated on responding to the plight of the people caught up in the brutal civil war, by providing food, shelter, and lobbying for the release of child soldiers. Today, Caritas Sierra Leone remains steadfast in post war peace building initiatives but is also active in various fields such as – HIV/AIDS prevention, food security, emergency and humanitarian relief, youth empowerment, environmental protection, poverty eradication and gender equality.
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One of the focus areas of Caritas Sierra Leone work is continued support of families and communities after the civil war through initiatives such as peacebuilding, trauma counselling and resettlement support to refugees.
Caritas Sierra Leone in partnership with Catholic Relief Services instituted a life skills programme to educate primary school children the value of avoiding conflict, respecting one another and how to cope with the stresses of life. The programme also equips community members with the skills and the knowledge necessary to recognise and respond effectively to early warning signs of conflict.
Caritas Sierra Leone’s firm commitment to education initiatives and lobbying efforts combats sex crimes against women and vulnerable persons, as rape and female genital mutilation are a chronic concern. Their awareness campaigns protect and prevent vulnerable girls and women from violence as well as advocates for legislative reform and enforcement of laws.
Caritas Sierra Leone opens health clinics to provide medicine to people in dire need of health care, provides agricultural training and food processing to help farmers increase their productivity, rehabilitates schools for orphans and poor children, promotes HIV and AIDS awareness and prepares communities to minimise future emergencies.
Caritas Sierra Leone responds to the nation’s high unemployment rate as 70 percent of youth are unemployed and as result are prone to drug abuse, violence and pretty crimes. Initiatives provide vocational training to former child soldiers and women and invite community businesses to train ex-combatants without payment to rebuild communities.
Caritas Sierra Leone operates nationwide through the National Office in Freetown and 4 Caritas diocesan offices. In pursuing its mission and vision, the agency consists of a Board of Directors, Management Team, and over 100 personnel nationwide.
Caritas Sierra Leone frequently engages in partnerships with the global Caritas network to implement and carry out their programmes; such as Catholic Relief Services USA, Caritas Ireland-Trócaire, Caritas England and Wales-CAFOD, Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Africa