General information on Sierra Leone

During the country's 10-year civil war, thousands of children were used as combatants. In 2014, the Ebola epidemic brought even more hardships to one of Africa’s poorest countries. Against this background, SOS Children's Villages has played a vital role in helping the country's most vulnerable segments of population: children and young adults.

SOS Kindergarten - photo: C. Lesske
SOS Kindergarten in Freetown (photo: C. Lesske)

Despite significant natural wealth, Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in the world: around 80 per cent of its population live in crippling poverty. Semi-arid rural areas tend to be more affected than the urban centres of the country. The average Sierra Leonean can expect to live to 48 years, one of the lowest life expectancy figures in the entire world.

Nearly half the population is severely undernourished as regular access to food and drinking water remains scarce. HIV/AIDS remains a persisting public health issue in Sierra Leone, a country that is home to 49,000 people who suffer from the disease. Although noticeable progress has been made over recent years, HIV continues to be a significant problem in rural areas which are generally more affected than urban centres.

In 2014, the Ebola epidemic disrupted all aspects of life in Sierra Leone. Many families were negatively affected: the price of fuel and most basic food went up and in areas where movement was restricted, adults couldn’t go out to earn a living.

Happy to be at school - photo: C. Lesske
During the Ebola epidemic, SOS Children’s Villages has given local families food and basic medical supplies  - photo: SOS archives
SOS Children's Villages has been supporting vulnerable children, young people and families in Sierra Leone since 1974.

Strengthen Families: We work with the local community to support families so that they can stay together. Every family has different needs but we offer access to health services and education, counselling and further training. Many of the families that we work with have been affected by HIV/AIDS and Ebola. 

Care in SOS families: For those children who cannot live with their families, SOS Children's Villages provides direct care in SOS families. Children grow up with their siblings and are cared for by an SOS parent.

Education: In order to make sure the children have access to quality education, we run kindergartens and schools in Sierra Leone. Around 3000 students benefit from our work here. 

Support for young people: We support young people until they are able to live independently. We support them while they continue their further education and also provide them with training.

Emergency Programme: During the civil war, we ensured that the children in our care stayed safe and provided emergency relief to those escaping the violence. Likewise, during the Ebola epidemic of 2014, we worked with other agencies to provide advice, food, protective equipment and disinfectants to the local communities. The focus of these activities was on the children who had lost parental care, or were at risk of losing it.