Street Children and Family Strengthening in Liberia
The SOS Social Centre in Monrovia turned her sadness into gladness
Coping with the loss of a loved one is never easy. But you have to go forward and get on with life, especially when the future of your four children is at stake.
Karen thought she had reached the bottom and was ready to accept her fate…until she heard about the SOS Social Centre in Monrovia, Liberia, and gathered her last strengths to tell her story and ask for help.
32-year-old Karen has lost her husband to a fatal sickness in 2007. They were blessed with three beautiful girls: Catherine, now eleven, Jessica, seven, and Margot, four. Karen also has a fourth child under her care: her late brother’s son, Joseph, eight.
She explained that in 2007 her husband got ill of Tuberculosis. The illness was so prolonged that she lost everything in the process of wanting to save his life. She had to sell some of her material possessions and used the business money to pay her husband's medical bill. She lost him in September 2007. It was a tragic moment for her and the children, but it was also a 'real moment': she had to face her fears.
The kids dropped out of school, her own health declined and she had lost hope and meaning for living. Her emotional condition got so deplorable that some family members had to take the children from her for some time.Until a certain day, in 2008, when a beam of light turned in the direction of Karen's dark world: the SOS Social Centre of Monrovia. Karen went in and told all her story to one of the social workers. A first relief…
A beam of light
The social worker further visited Karen and her children in their home, to crosscheck the family story and see things for herself. As she saw the place rented by the family and the children's condition, there was no doubt the family needed urgent help. Since that day, Karen's family has joined the family strengthening programme implemented by the SOS Social Centre of Monrovia.As a priority, the family was given nutritional support and free access to the SOS Health Centre
in Monrovia. During the family visits, the social worker counseled everyone to better cope with the loss of the father and husband, addressing everybodys needs and concerns individually. The children were put back into school and soon started living like normal children again.
Karen now has a good health and is also psychologically stronger to face the challenges life has given her. Through the programme, she received a short training on income generating activity management and got the financial support to set up her own little business. She now sells school bags, hand bags and other leather second hand items in the general market, next to where the family lives. Gradually, she is improving her family's living conditions and takes better care of her children.