Sierra Leone: A new safe haven for abused girls

Publication Date: 
April 19, 2011

The Salesians in Sierra Leone are continuing their response to the Children of the Street Report, which revealed that thousands of homeless children have been the target of abuse and exploitation. Among them are more than 500 young girls who are victims of rape, forced marriage and physical assault.

The grand opening of a new Salesian shelter is providing these girls with the safety and protection they deserve … and the care and compassion they desperately need.

Thanks to the generosity and support of our caring supporters and dedicated missionaries, the Salesians are proud to announce the opening of the newly established Laura Viguna Shelter for Girls in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The facility will serve girls ranging in age from 8 to 17 who have experienced traumatic abuse and exploitation. More than 15 female social workers will be available for crisis intervention, counseling and guidance.

The shelter will offer food and drinks, showers and laundry, a place to retreat and sleep, and the opportunity to connect with other children in similar circumstances. Furthermore, the Salesians have developed strong ties to local police, hospitals, social agencies and the government to ensure that the girls' rights are not violated.

Brother Lothar Wagner, who announced the grand opening of the shelter at a news conference, explained, "we saw the need to help these girls and let them know that they are not alone – the Salesians will be with them at all times."