FDID Sierra Leone shifts its drug advocacy to Sewa Grounds (Victoria Park)
The condition/situation of youths is becoming serious by the day in this country as drugs or illegal substances are seen as an alternative source of seeking solace, as the vast majority of the youths in the country are uneducated, unskilled, and unemployed. (Photo: The Director of FDID Hindowa E. Saidu, Melissa Ditmore and some street kids at Sewa Grounds)
Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development (FDID-SL), a youth serving and drug prevention organization in Sierra Leone, engaged street youths and children at the Sewa Grounds (Victoria Park) a hide-out in the central business district of Freetown on the 4th of March 2013. The team was led by the executive director of the organization and other members of staff who were also accompanied by a consultant from the United States of America who was in Sierra Leone to conduct a training for FDID-SL and other organizations.
At the Sewa Grounds, the leader of the hide-out (BRA) Mr. Sampha Kamara called the meeting to order by calling on the youths to be very attentive. He also praised FDID-SL as the only organization who ventures into hide-outs with drug prevention and education messages. He further went on to say that the youths are ready for a complete change of life if only the necessary opportunities are given.
Giving an overview of the visit, the Executive Director of FDID-SL Mr. Hindowa E Saidu took off by introducing MELISSA DITMORE a lead consultant for the HIV/AIDS secretariat in Sierra Leone. He said Melissa is in the country for the next two weeks on population size estimation but then looking at key populations. Mr. Saidu implored the youths that they are serious about the problems of the youths, and that they are trying to see how best they can help as a civil society in lobbying Government and other stake holders in solving their problems.
Surprising to see that afternoon were children aged between 9 to 14 years. Most of them were under the influence of drugs at that time of the day and some were sleeping as the meeting went on. One important message FDID-SL got from the youths at Sewa Grounds was that just last week they had buried 16 of their colleagues as a result of the proliferation of unregulated sachets of alcoholic drinks that are easily accessible and affordable in the market. The youths said these products are dangerous for consumption.
Melissa Ditmore thanked FDID-SL for the wonderful job they are doing in trying to engage the minds of these young people and educating them from taking drugs and other illegal substances, she said an alternative health care was one thing they needed as well as jobs.
Making a statement and at the same time thanking the visiting team, one of the longest serving female members of the hideout Kadie Kaisamba also known as ‘Granny,’ said she is a hairdresser and wanted start up kits. She said her husband who is also member of the hideout is a driver and most of the inmates are skilled in other areas and if only they can receive help from government and other NGOs, they will leave the street. Various speakers appealed to Government to come to their aid so that they may also be able to use their potentials in the development process of their communities and the country as a whole.
A 10 year old child Mohamed Kargbo told his audience that he was ready to go back to school as he left his home because his parents were unable to take of his needs.
Hindowa E. Saidu, FDID-SL
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