National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) has presented various skills training certificates to ninety (90) women.
The aforementioned women were among two hundred and ninety-six target beneficiaries for the project, who suffered sexual abuse and various other forms of violence during the civil conflict that ravaged Sierra Leone.
The certification ceremony took place on Thursday 10th March 2011 at the British Council Hall, Tower Hill in Freetown.
Commissioner of the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), Mr. Saidu Conton Sesay, said NaCSA was mandated by an Act of Parliament to implement a Reparation Programme. The programme, he continued, is geared towards responding to the emerging needs of war victims, who suffered various human rights abuses during the eleven years civil conflict in Sierra Leone.
He noted that the reparation programme was part of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report. The programme, he said, caters for five categories of war victims namely amputees, war wounded, war widows, child victims and sexually assaulted victims.
The aforementioned groups of war victims are to benefit from free healthcare, pensions, skills training and micro grants, education supports, and symbolic reparations among others, he pointed out.
According to him, NaCSA kick started the programme in 2008 with initial fund from the United Nations Peace Building Fund (UNPBF).
“NaCSA provided very modest forms of reparations packages for twenty thousand, one hundred and seven victims,” NaCSA's Sesay explained, adding that each of the beneficiaries received One Hundred United States Dollars (US$100), as an interim measure, pending funds for the provision of sustainable form of support.
He continued that symbolic reparations were also undertaken in forty (40) chiefdoms.
“These war victims have benefited from fistula surgeries, emergency medical support and psychosocial support,” he pointed out.
“In April 2010, NaCSA received US$999,999 from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women for the implementation of post-conflict reparation for 650 female victims of the war in Sierra Leone over a period of two years,” the NaCSA boss informed, adding that the project is enshrined in the broader reparations programme for all five categories of victims.
According to him, the project allows empowerment for the women through various skills training, the provision of tool kits and $500 grant to each of them.
The Commissioner furthered that this project year (April 2010–March 2011), 296 female war victims have undergone various trainings on vocations of their choices. During the training sessions, he continued, the beneficiaries received stipends of Le.140, 000 each on a monthly basis for a period of six months.
Mr. Sesay said thematic issues on HIV AIDS, human rights, gender based violence, adult literacy, trauma healing and basic financial literacy were incorporated in the training.
“In short, the training was a holistic one to ensure that these women are well equipped to face a new world with a fresh start,” he emphasized.
He recalled that ninety, out of the two hundred and ninety six beneficiaries received certificates on various vocations of the choices, following the completion of their various training exercises a few days ago.
“They also received tool kits and pay slip of $500 each that have been deposited into their bank accounts,” he disclosed, adding that a similar exercise would be replicated for the remaining 206 beneficiaries in the three regions.
The next batch of 354 beneficiaries, Commissioner Sesay informed, will commence training in June this year.
Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Lansana Nyallay described the occasion as a past, present and future.
“It explains where Sierra Leone is coming from, where it is now and where is it heading to,” he pointed out, while using the forum as an opportunity to express appreciation to the facilitators, sponsors and participants for making the project a success.
He assured NaCSA of his ministry's continued support to the programmes of the Commission.
Chairman Board of Trustees War Victims Trust Fund, Professor Amy E. Joof, said during the brutal war, women suffered widespread violations.
“We have heard and read of testimonies ranging from beating, gang rapes, rape with objects such as sticks and weapons, sexual slavery for weeks, and often years, forced marriages with combatants, and sexual mutilations (cutting of breast etc.) to opening of wombs of pregnant women after having bet on the gender of the child,” said Prof. Joof, adding that these atrocities had a terrible effect on the psychological as well as physical health of these victims. He thanked NaCSA for their brilliant moves to end suffering on women in Sierra Leone.
Other valuable contributions were made by various speakers including the Campaign for Good Government (CGG) Director Valnora Edwin.