In 2009 Lonely Planet named Sierra Leone in its top ten countries to visit, and it's easy to see why. With a string of beautiful beaches, which extend down the coast into Liberia, a wonderful culture, and one of the warmest welcomes you'll receive anywhere in the world, it is an ever-engaging place to visit.
War is long gone, and both Liberia and Sierra Leone are safe, friendly countries, which gladly welcome visitors for any reason; but even now, decades after the series of civil wars that were reported widely around the world, the region suffers hugely from the aftermath of its turbulent past.
Sierra Leone, Liberia, and neighboring Guinea are incredibly poor. Decades of civil war had taken their toll, but all three countries were well on the road to recovery; the World Bank had projected Sierra Leone's economy to be the second fastest growing worldwide, and Liberia had risen an unprecedented three points in the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index between the end of its war in 2003, and the onset of the Ebola outbreak in March 2014. That is, until the Ebola crisis began to take hold.
It has been a difficult, tragic year, with thousands of dead, and many thousands more suffering physical and psychological trauma; and then of course, there are the tens of thousands of Ebola orphans. As we now finally begin to foresee an end to the health crisis wrought by Ebola, both Sierra Leone and Liberia need all the help they can get to rebuild a region that has so much to offer its visitors.
Why children are on the streets
Our experience tells us that there could be as many as half a million children in the region without access to education. Often, neglected rural areas – of which there are many – offer little or no opportunity for children to break from the existing cycle of poverty, and they flee to the cities in search of education. They are inevitably disappointed by the lack of opportunities in the cities too, and many of them end up destitute and relying on the streets for their survival. Our research shows us that there are almost 50,000 street children in Sierra Leone, living and/or sleeping on the streets, at risk of abuse and exploitation, and around 15,000 in Liberia, on the streets of Monrovia alone.
With your help, Street Child is working towards making an impact on both these issues.