Stories of Transformation – Success of Livelihoods Training in Sierra Leone

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Action on Poverty’s partner, CARD, runs innovative enterprise training projects which aim to bring 1,200 vulnerable young men and women ‘back to life’.  By offering apprenticeships with local artisans, business skills training, tools through a revolving fund, supportive life skills and functional literacy, along with youth group business development units for savings schemes and mentoring, young people like Tijan, Bintu and Alusine are empowered to set up small businesses and change their own lives.  Then change the lives of their family and community and local attitudes forever.

Since its start in February 2015 considerable progress has been made on planned targets.  1,200 young people between 18-35, particularly those with disabilities and women heading households, have been placed as trainees with verified local artisans.  CARD has particularly sought out artisans who themselves have disabilities as role-models for trainees.  They continue to receive training and business support and by July 2018 all will be working independently or in small business groups.

Thanks to their own efforts Bintu, Alusine and Tijan now have safe and legal livelihoods – earning a decent living for working hard, able to feed their siblings and children, and send them to school, so that they, in turn, have brighter opportunities.

Bintu Kenewa aged 19; Hairdressing Trainee

“I lost my father to Ebola in October 2014.  In November, in fear of the virus I moved to Bo with my three younger brothers, where I soon feel into prostitution at a night club to make a living.  I could sell my body, my business centre, for £1.35 an hour.  Then I heard about the CARD project on the radio and went to CARD’s office to train to be a hairdresser.  Now I can support my brothers in a dignified and respectful manner.  At weekends customers come to my house to do their hair and pay me reasonably.  People who used to call me kolonko (sex worker), now they call me “de mammy”.  With CARD and Action on Poverty I have transformed my life.”

Alusine Sannoh; Tinsmithing trainee

“I enrolled after I heard about the training opportunities on the radio.  I was living with my aunt where the entire household saw me as a failure because I was physically challenged, unemployed and dependent on handouts; begging in the streets and being abused all day.  During my third month in training my aunt gave me money to buy her a stove, but I made it myself with very little supervision, painted it and inscribed her initials on it.  When I got back home I returned my Aunt’s money, and gave her a unique stove.  She couldn’t believe it.  That same day I was moved from the living room where I had slept on the floor to a furnished bedroom.  The young men in the area who used to call me “you” now call me ‘the Pa’.  I can earn at least £14 a month which was impossible four months ago.  Disabled though I am, pretty girls have started coming my way.  God bless CARD-SL and Action on Poverty UK.”

Tijan Abdul Karim; Electronics trainee

“I was feeling isolated and worried about the fact I had no relationships.  I was wandering up and down the street as though I was mentally sick, then I was told about the project and decided to come and see … When I came I was impressed with what I saw and I stayed.  I haven’t finished my training but I can already earn SLL 5,000 – 10,000 a day (approx. £0.70 – £1.30).  People bring their TV’s and other equipment for mending and they call me ‘The man who brings things back to life’.”