To ensure a more sustainable support for the survivors, the charity arm of the Archdiocese of Freetown partnered with Caritas Germany, embarking on “Enhancing Ebola survivors income generating and educational opportunities project in the western area Sierra Leone,” which provided psychological support, healthcare services and livelihood support to the survivors.
In its initial stages, the project equipped women in the western part of Sierra Leone with technical skills in catering, event decor and cosmetology. Graduates from the program have proceeded to establish their businesses while the rest have landed jobs in high-end restaurants, Charles told ACI Africa.
Other components of the project included educational support to school going children of Ebola survivors and provision of healthcare services to 1,000 Ebola survivors, widows, orphans and children of Ebola survivors.
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“The 50 women who have been handed business ventures make up the sixth batch of survivors that we are providing livelihood related support for, totaling to about 300 survivors reached so far through livelihood engagement,” the Caritas Freetown official said.
For the first four months, he added, Caritas officials will be monitoring the beneficiaries’ business ventures consistently until December when the charity organization will be satisfied that the beneficiaries have mastered the skill in their various businesses to be able to manage themselves.
“We are also encouraging them to embrace saving and we’ll be collecting monthly savings from them and reviewing them on a weekly basis. We have outreach officers that have been trained to support them through the process,” the Programs Manager said during the September 10 interview.
The September 9 event was marked by a training where the beneficiaries were taken through various topics related to start-ups and encouraged to be serious with their monthly contributions.
“We’ll keep records. And at a final graduation ceremony, we’ll give them all they have been saving to help them grow their businesses. We’re hoping that by this time they will have opened a bank account where they will have developed the culture of saving unmonitored,” Charles further said of the project expected to end in December.
Caritas Freetown is, however, in discussions with Caritas Germany to have a more standardized three-year project in view of realizing a more elaborate transformation of the beneficiaries instead of the current short projects, the official divulged to ACI Africa September 10.