By Amin Kef (Ranger)
During an auspicious event that was held at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel on Aberdeen in Freetown on the 29th January, 2023, a nascent organization, Ruach Restoration Foundation for Women, situated on 58 Circular Road in Freetown launched its Restoration Centre Building Project.
Those in attendance included the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Solomon Jamiru Esq, the Director General of the National Telecommunications Authority- Daniel Kitibi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs-Mamadi Gobeh Kamara, Ing Andrew Keili , the Executive Director of the Rainbo Centre- Daniel Kettor, the private sector, legal profession, religious leaders, families, well-wishers and other women and girls’ organisations.
Moderating the event was a former electronic media journalist who later became a banker, Ms Hannah Foulah, who in her opening remarks recalled the 8th of April, 2022 when news break out that a 43 year old Nigerian gospel singer, Osinati, died.
She said conflicting reports were given as to the cause of death some stating that she died of throat cancer. She, however, pointed out that her death was attributed to physical abuse inflicted on her by her husband who was also her musical manager. According to her, many were wondering why the late singer suffered emotional and psychological abuse for so long without voicing it out. She underscored that there are some deaths that are preventable maintaining that it is disturbing to think of a woman in her prime who had her life cut so short.
The moderator asked the question of what are we doing to bring the boys onboard with the objective of breaking the cycle of violence furthering that women are not the weaker sex, they make the bulk of the population and can do commendable things.
According to her, when power lies in the hands of the majority a revolution is possible. She expressed gratitude for the enactment of the GEWE Act adding that organizations like the Ruach Restoration Foundation for Women is helping the Government to address issues related to Gender and Sexual Based Violence. “They want to bring hope and empower women in order to create a new Sierra Leone,” she informed the audience.
In her welcome address and declaration of purpose, Catherine Finda Greenwood, stated that she welcomes what she referred to as their partners saying they were carefully selected to share their dreams and aspirations with them. She disclosed that the purpose of converging was to officially launch the Restoration Centre Building Project.
Catherine expressed appreciation for the passage of the GEWE Act and for the efforts made by all in empowering women.
She revealed that the main focus of the Restoration Foundation for Women is to empower destitute women and the Girl Child by providing counselling for women and avail them skills training opportunities for self reliance.
Catherine elaborated that the main project of the Foundation is to build a thirty (30) room Restoration Centre for Disadvantaged/Abandoned Women and the Girl Child.
She revealed how the Foundation has been gifted with three town plots of land at Peninsular Area further intimating how the Centre will be able to house disadvantaged/abandoned girls, women who are homeless, those who have suffered from domestic violence and even prostitutes who want to leave the streets but do not have the means to get a place to stay.
“The facility will provide a safe environment for their mental and emotional wellbeing as well as equip them with various skills/talents to become emotionally and financially stable so that they can go back into the society as meaningful citizens,” she stated going further to state that the women/girls will be in the facility for a transitional period and to receive the care and training that will suit their circumstance and get them restored to a position or state in which they can go out into the society.
“The Foundation will ensure that well-trained and professional caregivers administer the care that suits each woman/girl child so as to get the desired results of healing and restoration,” she told the audience also informing that there will be skills training in tailoring, hairdressing and cosmetology, baking/pastry, logistics, driving, entrepreneurship and other hands-on skills.
She pointed out how the Foundation will also be engaged in the discovery of the untapped talents and gifts of these women and girls to ensure they receive the appropriate training to enhance such talents and gifts adding that areas of interests that will be looked at are singing, acting, painting, arts and crafts and general artistic talents and gifts.
She called on other organizations to join hands with them to identify destitute women and the Girl Child that need help and counsel them in the Word maintaining that the organization has a Christian leaning which is why they deemed it fit to counsel these women in the word or gospel.
Catherine referenced the gospel musician, Osinati, underscoring that her story depicts the harrowing experiences or treatments a lot of women are going through but cannot talk about them because they don’t have the space or prefer to persevere suffering in the hands of their husbands for the sake of the children they have adding that even the elites go through such and not just the downtrodden.
Chairperson of Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equal Rights and Social Justice (LAWYERS), Fatmata Forster, in her statement gave some gloomy statistics of the status of women in Sierra Leone, one of which according to UNFPA states that 62% of women in Sierra Leone have experienced violence. She pointed out that because of the discouraging statistics that is all the more reason why the fight for women empowerment is necessary.
According to her, twenty years ago LAWYERS was formed to provide pro bono legal representation for disadvantaged women and girls. She said the aims and objectives of the organization speak to the services they offer adding that she is delighted to see more organizations come onboard as they LAWYERS have their own limitations stressing that other organizations could take off from what they could not do. Fatmata stressed that an organization like the Restoration Foundation for Women is being launched.
She made a passionate appeal for support to be given to the organization, especially financial support in order for it to undertake its building project.
Fatmata ended up wishing members of the organization all the best assuring them that LAWYERS will always respond at their beacon calls.
The Program Manager for Rainbo Initiative, Anthony Sam, intimated that they do operate in six districts disclosing that recently they relocated to their new office on 4 Williams Drive where they have opened a Satellite Centre.
He said Rainbo started as a response to one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and since then they have been offering free medical and psycho-social support and in 2014 it became an independent entity and survivors of SGBV have been treated in their thousands.
He said he is happy that an organization or a Foundation of such nature is about to be launched to help women and girls get better lives stressing that the vision of the organization aligns with theirs. He promised that the Rainbo Centre will work closely with then assuring them of sharing knowledge as they continue to care for the beneficiaries as well as their restoration strategy.
The climax of the event was the official launch of the Restoration Foundation for Women by Commissioner Simitie Lavaly Esq also called Mrs. Simitie Zorokong of the Human Rights Commission for Sierra Leone after which donation pledges were collected from the audience geared towards the building project of the Foundation.
The Vote of thanks was given by the Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation Edith Chaytor Esq.