VSO has been operating in Sierra Leone since 1961. The country strategy is anchored around youth and seeks to simultaneously improve access to youth friendly health services, build skills of the young workforce, create job opportunities and influence policies and attitudes that will help young men and women become healthy and active citizens capable of transforming society.
To advance this strategy, we work in four interconnected programme areas and host 40-50 long-term international volunteers, over 20 young volunteers, and over 3,000 national volunteers through our partner network annually.
Getting young people into sustainable jobs is a top priority for the country and a pre-requisite for maintaining peace and promoting pro-poor growth. VSO Sierra Leone agrees with the government assessment that the major barriers to youth employment are both demand and supply driven – job skill development must be linked to market needs. Training and opportunities must be available at community and district levels for greatest effect. This is why VSO works to improve governance and education to help improve livelihoods in Sierra Leone.
VSO will work with local and district councils to strengthen their ability to engage with young people to provide meaningful livelihood opportunities and access to appropriate basic services in education, health and other sectors. At the same time, we will engage with young people in the communities and strengthen their capacity to hold representatives accountable. Women’s voices and issues are of particular importance and VSO Sierra Leone will strive to bring greater gender awareness to all interventions.
Evidence shows that education attainment levels in young people are closely linked to unemployment and health behaviours and attitudes, therefore it is important to treat education, livelihoods and healthcare challenges in tandem. VSO works to support the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, local government structures, the National Youth Commission and civil society partners to enhance the employability, as well as health and well-being of young men and women for them to be active and productive members of society.
Young people face many health challenges that impair their overall well-being and ability to work, develop their skills and provide for their families. Young women are at particular risk with most women giving birth before they turn 19. Without proper knowledge of sexual and reproductive health issues and life skills, young people are at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS, as well as pregnancy-related complications and death. VSO Sierra Leone works with the Ministry of Health and the health service providers to provide safe, youth- friendly health facilities, messages and treatment to improve practical access to quality healthcare for young people.
Get in touch with VSO Sierra Leone at:
PO Box 19, Freetown, Sierra Leone