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Sierra Leone: with Street youth affected by conflict

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over a decade of conflict left 20% of children without a primary carer. Over half the population is under 18 and 60% are unemployed. Sierra Leone continues to progress slowly against development indicators, ranking 180/187 in the 2011 Human Development Index (HDI).

Poverty is widespread and inequalities pervasive, especially gender. The country has remained politically stable, however, since the end of the civil war in 2002.  The economy is expected to grow, especially on the back of increased mineral exports.  The drafting of Sierra Leone’s third national Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) has commenced.

While achievements, such as improved access to primary school education, maternal and child healthcare, supply of electricity and ongoing construction of high volume roads have been made, development progress is slow, especially impact on the most poor/vulnerable.

Our key partner is the inspirational organisation WAYout Arts. WAYout changes the lives of street, vulnerable and conflict affected young people through the arts. They offer training and shelter, make films that can effect change and record music that enables the excluded to re-engage. They promote artistic freedom, education and empowerment.

Our first visit was in November 2017 where we worked with 10 new creative facilitators and 25 street youth joined a new choir. We facilitated structured sessions over 1 week to write 4 new songs together in Krio, English, Limba, Temne, Mende and Susu languages as well as a famous Roma song from Eastern Europe and a French song written by a member of Stone Flowers from DR Congo. We then created 2 performances in Ferry Junction, one of the poorer areas in Freetown.

Here is what one of our new facilitators Cleffy had to say about the experience:

Oh my Gosh! Music Action International, everything about you guys and the work you are doing is all wonderful! Wonderful I say. Lis and Faz from Manchester city, our lovely, hardworking, kind and respectful friends, came to Sierra Leone, in WAYout to create huge space for our dead hopes to come to life, our dead believes in music to get back its life. They did it, we all did it. We all had a very exciting moments together and in some parts of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

I honestly can’t explain this all because I will lose some of my fingers, especially my thumb in typing. If I say, I will say everything, I can’t get all the awesome moments we had. All I have to say is thank you to Wayout for bringing such kind of musical opportunity at the doors of we the discouraged youths of Freetown, thank you to Music Action International, and to our dearest dears, Lis and Faz, we thank you a lot. Respect!!!” Bangura Cleffy (Freetown, Sierra Leone)

Our Sierra Leone programme is possible thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor.

The long-term aim of our international programmes is to create sustainable, locally-led programmes, facilitating specialist training and skill sharing with local people to build stronger communities, bringing people together through positive social experiences with uplifting, important social messages.

To hear more about our first trip, hear from Faz, our Creative Facilitator here

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