“I just need something to eat tonight. That’s why I’m out here.”
Her name was Yemea and she was prostituting herself simply to eat for the evening.
We approached her as she stood in a group with 3 other girls who were there for the same reason. They were friendly and open to all our questions as we stood on the side of the road that paralleled the beach in the capital city of Freetown. Seagulls flew overhead and fishermen pulled their lines in for the day. The sun threw pink and blue rays into the evening sky. The girls seemed hungry for friendship.
They told us how they survived from day to day, living in friend’s shacks and coming out every evening as “Women of the Night” as prostitutes are called in Sierra Leone. This west African nation earned it’s badge of honor as being the setting for the movie “Blood Diamonds”—the true story of the Sierra Leone’s 10 year civil war. Each of these girls vividly remembered the war and were now living in it’s consequences as the war ended their education and killed many of their family members. So now with no family support system and little education, they did the only thing they could think of: stood on the streets every night looking for a man to pay them $2 – $3 for their services which would buy them a meal for the day. It was a sad existence.
Our African No Boundaries International told them about how Jesus loved them, didn’t condemn them and had something better for their lives. Our Sierra Leonean pastor then sat down with his guitar and taught them praise songs to the One who loved them. Several of them cried. It was the first time in a very long while that someone paid attention to them just for who they were.
Our group went there for several evenings in a row and established strong friendships with the girls. Some stated that since our first encounter with them, they had stopped working the streets and were trying to think of different ways to earn a living.
Our African staff bonded well with these girls and others like them. This outreach was just one of the ways that our African NBI staff was making a difference in this poor country that continually hovered among the last three listed in the UN Human Development Index as being one of the worst places to live in the world.
Our staff, led by Pastor Andrew, has proved themselves to be faithful and creative partners with us since our partnership formed in 2007. They have continually sent out evangelism teams to the local jails and streets all around Freetown and have even had a bible school located on the base. Within the last 2 years, they have overseen the building of a middle school in a rural muslim community that suffers from great poverty and no opportunities for their children. Even the village elders knew the high teen pregnancy rate stemmed from a critical lack of educational opportunities. So when NBI built the middle school in their village, there was much excitement. And now, two years after it’s inception, the elders are proud to say that the teen pregnancy rate has fallen dramatically. Hope has been restored to the village.
We are proud of our partners in Sierra Leone as they continually look for ways to minister to the people of Sierra Leone. And in an effort to not only become self-sufficient in order to fund ministry outreach but to provide long-term employment to those within their community, Pastor Andrew and his staff have become business owners. They recently opened a movie cinema where international soccer events are broadcast several times a week as well as opening a much needed bread bakery called “The Bread of Life”. Additionally, the woman’s group in the NBI church has initiated microloans to single mothers in order enable the women to provide much needed funds to their family while learning simple business techniques and accountability. All the business’ provide employment in a country with double digit unemployment rates while also sustaining the ministry outreaches. It’s a win-win situation for everyone! All this in a country with intermittent electricity in unreliable running water. Amazing!
If you would like to know more about NBI’s work in this west African country, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Facts:(Thanks to the BBC for this profile)
* Full name: Republic of Sierra Leone
* Population: 6 million (UN, 2008)
* Capital: Freetown
* Area: 71,740 sq km (27,699 sq miles)
* Major languages: English, Krio (Creole language derived from English) and a range of African languages
* Major religions: Islam, Christianity
* Life expectancy: 41 years (men), 44 years (women) (UN)
* Monetary unit: Leone
* Main exports: Diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish
* GNI per capita: US $260 (World Bank, 2007)
Sierra Leone in the news:
Sierra Leone, in West Africa, emerged from a decade of civil war in 2002, with the help of Britain, the former colonial power, and a large United Nations peacekeeping mission.
More than 17,000 foreign troops disarmed tens of thousands of rebels and militia fighters. The country now faces the challenge of reconstruction.
A lasting feature of the war, in which tens of thousands died, was the atrocities committed by the rebels, whose trademark was to hack off the hands or feet of their victims.
Politics: Sierra Leone is recovering from a 10-year civil war which ended in 2002; war centred around a power struggle and had a regional dimension
Economics: Sierra Leone is bottom of UN’s league for human development
A UN-backed war crimes court has been set up to try those, from both sides, who bear the greatest responsibility for the brutalities.
The country is still considered a fragile state and faces the challenges of poverty, corruption and economic mismanagement.
The 70,000 former combatants who were disarmed and rehabilitated after the war have swollen the ranks of the many young people seeking employment.
Sierra Leone is rich in diamonds. The trade in illicit gems, known as “blood diamonds” for their role in funding conflicts, perpetuated the civil war. The government has attempted to crack down on cross-border diamond trafficking.
Sierra Leone has a special significance in the history of the transatlantic slave trade. It was the departure point for thousands of west African captives. The capital, Freetown, was founded as a home for repatriated former slaves in 1787.
Possible mission trip activities:
- Medical clinics
- Children and youth outreaches
- Work with orphans, prostitutes, amputees, former sex slaves and former child soldiers
For more information, contact us!