By: Dustin Johnson
Last month, three members of our staff travelled to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, to launch our education project in the country. Working in partnership with a Sierra Leonean NGO, Pikin-to-Pikin Movement, we held a series of meetings and a two-day workshop to train local staff members and educators who will be implementing the project.
The goal of the project is to educate children, and the community at large, on child protection issues, so that children are better able to protect themselves and their peers. Children learn better when they are taught by their peers, and so this project uses the child-to-child approach: one group of children nominated by their peers are taught the material by adult educators, and they then conduct activities to pass the knowledge on to other children.
For the first phase, this curriculum will be delivered through three pilot schools in three districts of Sierra Leone: UMC primary in Bombali District; Saint Michael’s Primary in Moyamba District, and Sierra Leone Church Primary in Port Loko District.
The child protection curriculum for the project was developed by the Dallaire Initiative, the Pikin-to-Pikin Movement, and the UK-based Child-to-Child Trust. It focuses on the issues arising from the aftermath of Sierra Leone’s civil war: normalization of violence, bullying, disregard of human rights, and the possibility for renewed conflict and recruitment.
The workshop was held in a modest but well-situated hotel conference room overlooking Freetown’s gorgeous Lumley Beach. There were two groups of participants: Pikin-to-Pikin staff from each of the three districts, and educators from each of the pilot schools. Throughout the two days, we conducted a series of sessions with the Pikin-to-Pikin staff to discuss the use and implementation of the training materials, the timeline for project implementation, and the child protection challenges in their districts.
As my first work trip abroad for the Dallaire Initiative, this visit to Sierra Leone was a great and humbling learning experience for me. Doing this kind of development work requires a deep understanding of and appreciation for the context in which you are working, which can only be learned through collaboration and action with partners in-country.