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About Laughter Africa
Laughter Africa works with street children in Freetown, Sierra Leone to fulfil their aspirations and to help them to bring about positive change in their lives. Laughter Africa delivers this objective through assisting children in leaving the streets, through the following three-phased approach:
Outreach Work. This involves the social workers meeting the children living on the streets through day or night surveys. The first priority is dealing with the immediate needs of the street children. They may be hungry and need food. They may be ill or in need of medical care. They may be lonely or grieving and just need a listening ear. They may have been raped and need someone to talk to. They may be having legal trouble with the police or judiciary and need someone to advocate on their behalf. Whatever they need, Laughter Africa is willing to provide. Whilst Laughter Africa's trained social workers will try to encourage them to leave the streets, they are not forced to do so.
The Interim Care Centre. The Laughter Africa Interim Care Centre is a safe place for street children to live while attempts are made to find their families. At the Interim Care Centre food, clothing, health care, education, counselling, support and other essentials are provided. Activities such as drama, music, sports, cultural dance, arts and crafts and cookery are also available. The Interim Care Centre is a place where the street children can be children and learn to laugh again.
Home-tracing and family reunification work. This is an integral part of Laughter Africa's approach, through which social workers trace the street children’s families in the hope that the parties can be reunited. Before reuniting a child with their family, we work with both parties to understand the reasons that led to the child turning to the streets in the first place. Our goal is to ensure that the child feels happier and the original issues that precipitated their move on to the streets are resolved. Once the children have returned home, Laughter Africa offers continued support and pays for their school fees and other school support until they finish their WASSCE (the Sierra Leone equivalent of A-levels) or pays for vocational training - whichever option the child prefers. Social workers keep in touch with each child and their family to check on their progress and make sure that all is well. If any problems arise then the staff will intervene before the child is tempted to return to the streets again. Social workers visit the children at home at least once a quarter or more often if necessary.
Through its outreach work, establishment of a safe care centre and family reunification activities, Laughter Africa seeks to protect vulnerable children from the dangers of living on the streets, meet their basic health, education and nutrition needs, and ensure their long-term well being.
Learn more at http://laughterafrica.org.uk