Supporting women and girls who have faced violence in Sierra Leone


YMCA Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone YMCA, established in Freetown in 1912, has brought together local YMCA branches in order to harness resources, share experiences and face the challenges of our country Sierra Leone as a network. It has also engaged itself in broadest possible cross sections of the communities in identifying, designing implementing and evaluating youth empowerment programmes. This further fits into our vision, which states to Empowering Young People for the African Renaissance The present social and economic situation of Sierra Leone is one that is totally devastated and been heavily supported by the international community.

The women taking the lead

Habiba Boima (black t-shirt), Mariama Bah (blue top) and Aminata Jalloh (orange dress) talk with YMCA staff members Hawa Bangura (white t-shirt) and Edna Sia Kobba (green dress) at the soap project.Dreamtown soap making centre, Kissy. Date: 23/09/2022 Location: Kissy, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Copyright: Tom Price 2022 /
Dreamtown soap making centre, Kissy

Edna and Hawa are two women who work closely with YMCA projects in communities in Kissy, Sierra Leone.

Edna is a Project Officer at YMCA Sierra Leone and heads up the work at ‘Safe in the City’ and ‘Open Space Makers’.

Hawa is a volunteer at YMCA Sierra Leone and has been since the Ebola crisis. Edna and Hawa’s work centres heavily on projects which support women and girls who have faced gender and sexual-based violence. Hawa said:

‘One of the biggest issues that young women face in Sierra Leone, in Kissy, for example, is sexual and gender-based violence, especially with young girls’.

The two women play a role in ensuring that women and girls who have faced gender and sexual-based violence are assisted by the YMCA in Sierra Leone. ‘We look for ways and means that the YMCA can assist women and girls in one way or another – it can be through skills, it can be through training, it can be through counselling’.

Soap and skills

A brilliant example of providing meaningful skills for these women and girls is the soap-making project which happens in Kissy. This sees young women and girls come together to make and sell bars of soap to the community. Through this project, they are learning the practical skills of soap-making, and business skills which includes selling the soap, and they also meet other women and girls their age with similar life experiences.

Investing in the future

A lot of girls in the project use the money from their soap-making to get back into school and finish their education.

It’s important because YMCA is a leading organisation which serves young people – that’s the vision and mission of YMCA: to empower young people and that’s very, very important because the empowerment for young people women and young girls is the key which changes their mindset which leads to development for themselves and their communities’.

Vision 2030

The Soap-making project in Kissy provides opportunities for meaningful work, one of the four pillars of the World YMCA’s Vision 2030.

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