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Street Child

Early Monday morning heavy rainfall caused a devastating mudslide in the Sierra Leone capital Freetown. Hundreds of people were buried alive and thousands were left homeless, with nothing.

Street Child launched an emergency flood relief appeal in response to the crisis. Your generous donations have helped us to respond quickly to this crisis. Already we are at Regent distributing emergency food packages to those impacted by the crisis.

We couldn’t have done this without your support.  Thank you.


Street Child

A letter from Tom Dannatt:

Dear All,

Many of you will have seen the devastating news from Freetown today where over 300 Sierra Leoneans have died following horrific landslides and torrential rainfall. 

These communities, who live on the hill slopes on the edge of Freetown, are amongst the capital's poorest inhabitants. We have been working in and out of these communities since Street Child began operating in Freetown in 2009. Those who have survived this tragedy are left with simply nothing. The capacity of the already stretched Sierra Leonean Government to help is very limited. This is a time where urgent charity is needed. 

For these reasons Street Child is launching a formal flood relief appeal to our supporters and the general public. 100% of all donations received will be spent as quickly and as well as possible supporting our excellent, on the ground, social and livelihood teams. In the short term we will focus on food, shelter and water. Afterwards we'll focus on ensuring that affected children are able to restart school at the start of the school year in September; and then we will help affected families rebuild their livelihoods.

Your generosity has made such an enormous difference in the past. If at all possible, it is really needed now. All gifts received will be so hugely appreciated - and of course spent as very well as possible. Please give what you can. 

Thank you so much,



Street Child

It’s with an enormous amount of pride and pleasure that we can announce that the Sierra Leone Marathon has won the Best International Event at the Running Awards 2017!

Sierra Leone Marathon

In a hugely competitive field that included World Marathon Majors like the Berlin Marathon and the epic Marathon Des Sables, the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon took home the top prize.

Each year the Running Awards celebrates the world’s best and greatest marathons; to have triumphed in such a competitive field speaks volumes about our incredible marathon. With the vote decided by runners and supporters, we wanted to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to vote for us.

The Sierra Leone Marathon has grown from a small event in 2012 to be street Child's flagship fundraising event raising over £1.5m. We’ve had over 400 international runners from all corners of the globe and in Sierra Leone the profile of the marathon has grown to become the country’s biggest sporting event.

The sixth edition Sierra Leone Marathon took place in Makeni on the 28th of May, with 170 international runners and a few hundred runners from all over Sierra Leone. The runners went for different distances, between 5k and 42k! A big thanks to all runners, especially those who raised money for our projects, and all volunteers that made this even to a succes - tenki tenki! 


Street Child


It is one year since Sierra Leone was first officially declared Ebola free. It is also one year since Rebecca had her baby.

Rebecca is one of 12,000 children orphaned by Ebola in Sierra Leone (Street Child). She is also one of the 18,119 girls to fall pregnant during the crisis (UNFPA).

Yesterday, to mark the anniversary, the President of Sierra Leone led a three minute silence at 11am to remember those who lost their lives to the virus that ravaged the country and tore families apart. Flags were lowered to half mast, schools paused their lessons and traffic stopped.  

For girls like Rebecca, now 18, the reminders of Ebola are not just once a year, they are in her everyday fight for survival.

During Ebola she lost her mother, uncle and sister. She and her father were the only survivors. The family fell further into poverty forcing Rebecca to find a boyfriend who agreed to give her food in exchange for sex. When she became pregnant he abandoned her.

Rebecca cannot contain her emotion when she describes how her father then passed away too, leaving her pregnant and alone.

She cannot go to school and makes a paltry living selling small items at market and braiding hair. 

Today, one year on, she is still struggling to afford basic food and medicine for her baby.

Whilst the scenes of overcrowded Ebola treatment centres and medical staff wearing full disease protection clothing may no longer be on our screens, here in the UK we need to question whether we averted our eyes too quickly. Is this crisis really over?

For girls like Rebecca and thousands others like her, it certainly isn’t.

4,000 people lost their lives in Sierra Leone during the epidemic that swept the country in 2014-15.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, girls and women were disproportionately impacted. UNDP says that teen pregnancy rates rose by up to 65% in some communities. A generation of babies have now been born to teenage mothers like Rebecca who were forced to exchange sex for food during Ebola.

Without support, many of these teenage mums will never go back to school. Many will struggle to find a job and many of them will struggle to feed their children.

The Government of Sierra Leone says that every year that a girl stays in school increases her earning potential by 10-20%. The sad reality for many of these teenage mothers is that their chances of finishing their education ended when they became pregnant.

What if these girls were given a chance? What if more girls were able to go to school after Ebola?

Right now, the Sierra Leonean economy is really struggling. Street Child Social worker George Quaker tells us ‘the price of rice has doubled since 2014 and wages have not risen in line with this.’

Ten days ago I hosted an ODI event on Women’s Economic Empowerment in Westminster. I have no doubt that supporting women in business could play a key part in Sierra Leone’s recovery, if more women and girls are given the opportunity to contribute. 

UK NGO Street Child has provided 8,000 Ebola-impacted families with business grants and support in the last eighteen months and the majority of these went to women, because they make the best use of the funding. Time and again, mothers have proven more likely to invest the profit that they make directly back into their families. Rebecca will soon become one of the mothers given a second chance by Street Child.

Tackling inequality in education and investing in women will undoubtedly help Sierra Leone recover faster. It will mean that more women are able to make an economic contribution that helps the country and their family.

Educated girls not only earn more but they make better mothers too: they are more likely to ensure that their children go to school and that they have their vaccinations. Literate mothers are also better able to access information and advice that can help their children, like being able to read the instructions on medicine packets.

Widespread education could, in itself, have helped stem the rapid spread of the Ebola virus if more people had been literate so that they could read the posters and leaflets warning about how the disease is spread. 

Ebola is a prime example of how low illiteracy can create problems far beyond that country’s borders. Lack of education meant that Ebola spread quickly and posed a global threat - including to the UK. 

For me, I believe we have a moral duty to act when faced with extreme poverty and inequality, but it is also important to recognise that supporting global education and tackling gender inequality is actually good for everyone. So it makes sense for us to care about what happens to the poorest and most vulnerable children in Sierra Leone. It makes sense for us to want to see more Ebola orphans helped and more girls able to access education.

The UK has a strong, generous record in supporting international development and ring fencing 0.7 percent of GDP that we should be proud of. Our aid can help some of the children worst impacted by Ebola to have a chance; and it can help prevent future outbreaks of diseases that could affect any one of us.

As we join with Sierra Leoneans in celebrating one year Ebola free, we must not forget that the recovery still has a long way to go - especially for the most vulnerable women and girls. As global citizens we should not turn the other way. Instead, we should help give girls like Rebecca hope for a better future.


Street Child, Ebola orphan report: 

UNFPA quoted in Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium: 


Street Child, Girls Speak Out report:   


Street Child

Memuna Jabbie is 65 years old and lives in Makeni, Sierra Leone with her 12 grandchildren. Memuna lost four of her five children to Ebola and her surviving daughter is too ill to look after her children, leaving Memuna to adopt and raise her 12 grandchildren. The youngest is just two years old. 

Memuna’s family became part of the Street Child programme when her 10 year-old grandson Ibrahim was seen playing on the street during school hours by one of the Street Child team. 

Since then, Street Child have supported the family so that the children can go to school and receive an education. 

In early 2016, Ibrahim returned to the Young Muslim School in Makeni. Now, all Memuna’s school-age grandchildren are in education.

Following the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia, grandparent-headed households became more and more common. Street Child estimates that more than 20,000 children were orphaned during Ebola and many elderly grandparents are now facing the cost of educating, feeding and clothing their grandchildren.

Ramatu and her husband Alusine are both in their seventies and with Street Child’s support they have set up a family business to provide for their 18 grandchildren, the youngest of whom is not yet walking. 

Whilst Ebola is no longer making headlines, the legacy of the disease is all too real.

The Street Child family business programme helps grandparents to set up sustainable businesses so they can send their grandchildren to school and give them a quality education. 

Just £20 a month can provide a grandmother with a business grant and training to ensure she can send her grandchildren to school. Will you partner with us to give Ebola’s orphans a brighter future?



Street Child

In the small West African country of Sierra Leone, 46% of girls and young women aged 15-24 do not know how to read and write.

In contrast, 72% of Sierra Leonean boys and young men are literate (UNICEF).

Isatu, who is now 17 years old, dropped out of secondary school in Year 8 because her family could not afford to keep her there. Year 9 is the last year of basic education in Sierra Leone, and her family knew they would not be able to afford the end of year exam.

Sierra Leone is missing out, because when girls and women are educated, everyone benefits. Women who reach secondary school earn more, have fewer and healthier children, and are more likely to send their own children to school (World Bank).

Currently, Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.

Today’s UN Day of the Girl Child is a global reminder that we need to listen to girls, understand their problems and take action to make life better for everyone.

Street Child, an NGO working to help some of the world’s poorest children to access education, recently carried out a nationwide consultation with two thousand adolescent girls across Sierra Leone. Its aim was to understand what stops girls going to school. National researchers in towns and villages across Sierra Leone conducted the survey with girls both in school and out of school.

Researchers spoke with girls like Isatu who is from Bo, one of the largest towns in Sierra Leone.


Isatu’s story was common - poverty was found to be the major principal barrier to girls’ education in Sierra Leone - over 40% of out of school girls said that was the reason they dropped out of school. In households with very meagre resources, education of girls is often not prioritised.

Isatu now helps her mother to sell snacks in the market. On a good day they make £3 profit, which supports a family of ten.

Over 70% of Sierra Leoneans live on less than £2 a day.

Barriers to education for girls are often inter-linked. Isatu herself comes from a single parent family, since her father died when she was 13.

The loss of a caregiver, and the accompanying financial and emotional trauma, was the second most common reason for girls dropping out.

In these situations, girls are often required to take on the role of caregivers and breadwinners themselves. Street Child estimates that the recent Ebola epidemic saw 12,000 children orphaned in Sierra Leone alone. Many orphaned girls are now trying to earn a living and take care of younger siblings instead of going to school.

Although Isatu’s mother says she wants her daughter to go back to school, she also said she needs her help with the business and looking after the children. Three out of the five girls in the family are not in school.

Isatu’s three brothers are all still in school.

Adolescence is a critical time for girls in school in Sierra Leone. Responsibilities for child care and income mount; and the risk of child marriage and teenage pregnancy increases with physical maturity.

During Ebola, many girls became teenage mothers, often because ‘boyfriends’ would offer them with a little money to buy essentials like food.

Isatu become a mother a year ago - her little daughter Marie was born when the Ebola crisis was at its height. Both Isatu and Marie were fortunate; Sierra Leone is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth. And according to one study (LSTM, 2015) maternal mortality during Ebola rose by 30%, due to fear of health facilities and lack of basic education.

But Marie’s father disappeared when he found out Isatu was pregnant, and she receives no support from him. When girls drop out of school because of teenage pregnancy - the third most common reason - they very rarely go back.

Isatu is very keen to finish her studies, and she is not alone. There is a huge appetite for learning amongst Sierra Leonean girls. Over 80% of the out of school girls interviewed said they wanted to go back to school.

The support of boys and men is critical for girls’ education. The National Consultation interviewed both boys and elders, and found a lot of support. Yet the misconception that girls are not worth educating as much as boys was often repeated. “Girls are for the marital home in the end”, they said, “they have weaker brains”.

The national statistics show how this ends: for every two boys that reach the last year of secondary school, only one girl makes it (UNICEF, 2014).

Neither of Isatu’s parents ever went to school themselves - illiteracy is even more common amongst the older generations in Sierra Leone. But because Isatu got as far as secondary school, her daughter Marie is more likely to go to school herself.

When girls like Isatu miss out on education - Sierra Leone misses out too.

International Day of the Girl Child is about standing with girls like Isatu so that she can create the future she wants for her daughter.

It serves as an important reminder to all of us to examine gender inequality in our own communities and our global community. Tackling these problems won’t just benefit girls, it will benefit everyone.

The road to global gender equality is going to be a long one - but it is worth the fight.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post, click here to read it.