A visit to be proud of: CEO and Board of Trustees for Save the Children US in Sierra Leone

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Centre left to right; Carinne Basler, Debra Fine and Janti Soeripto with Sierra Leone Country Office staff in Freetown, September, 2022. Photo Credit: Abdul Sillah, Save the Children

High profile visits for any country office can be daunting, but with collaborative spirit, an agile team and strong leadership, the results of good planning and coordination can appear seamless and yield great results for a country programme. Last week’s visit by CEO Janti Soeripto and members of the Board of Trustees from Save the Children US, was a great example which has left an indelible mark of pride for staff having seen what a successful visit looks like.

From 11 to 16 September, Janti and members of the Board of Trustees were in Sierra Leone for a short visit to see our programmes in health, education and protection and; meet with government, partners and children we work for and with. Members of the delegation included Brad Irwin, Chair of SCUS Board of Trustees, Debra Fine, Vice-Chair, Corinne Basler from the Marketing, Communications & Development Committee and Raj Kumar from the Executive and Program Quality Committees.

Successes of the visit:

Janti and board members had the opportunity to engage project participants and stakeholders in both Western Area Rural and Kailahun, hear first-hand of our progress so far and meet with Ministers who spoke highly of Save the Children, commending our work and reaffirming their commitment to continued collaboration in order to achieve results for child.

Their visit included meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), Dr David Sengeh; Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), Dr Francis Kai Kai; Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Hon. Manti Tarawalli (MGCA) and Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS). They also made a quick stop to some of our health and protection project communities in Western Area Rural (WAR) and Kailahun districts.

Meeting healthcare workers and stakeholders for the MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership project, USAID


Healthcare staff at Newtown health facility talk about the changes in service delivery and uptake by women and girls following the QI training under MOMENTUM. Front row, Raj Kumar, second row right to left; Carinne Basler and Janti Soeripto, September, 2022. Photo credit: Abdul Sillah, Save the Children

The team met with healthcare workers in Newton, Waterloo (WAR) and Mobai community (Kailahun) who demonstrated the impact of the Quality Improvement (QI) trainings; component of the project’s capacity development assistance to MoHS for better health outcomes. Health care workers not only spoke of increased competence in healthcare delivery, they also talked about efforts in raising community awareness and informing adolescents on the importance of family planning and services available to reduce the high teenage pregnancy rates.

Ending Child Marriage: high level district meeting and engagement with adolescents from safe spaces

Left to Right: Janti Soeripto and Brad Irwin listen to adolescents in Mobai share their views on child marriage, September, 2022. Photo credit: Abdul Sillah, Save the Children

In Songo and Mobai, they met adolescent girls and boys, both in and out of school who were members of safe spaces under the Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM) project funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Adolescents spoke of the personal gains made since joining the safe spaces. These included better self-awareness and increased knowledge of gender equality and inclusion leading to behavior change. As a result, boys now have respect for girls and are participating in engagements that address child early forced marriage and FGM in their communities.

The team also attended a high-level district budget and political economy analysis dissemination meeting held by the ECM SCUS project, funded by 100 strong women. Chaired by a member of the Children’s Forum Network (CFN), findings of the study were shared with paramount chiefs and district leaders. It highlighted funding and policy gaps in addressing child marriage with an aim to get their buy-in to speak out for increased protection resources and mechanisms for girls.

Invitation to the Transforming Education Summit in New York

Meeting with Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr Sengeh, Janti and the team heard of the successful collaboration between Save the Children and the Ministry. This partnership contributed to remarkable results for over 100,000 learners through the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) COVID-19 Education Emergency Response project in collaboration with government.

During this meeting the Honorable Dr Sengeh invited Janto to participate in Transforming Partnerships for Foundational Learning high level dialogue, held on 17 September. The meeting discussed Sierra Leone’s priorities and plans for bolstering the foundations of learning within early childhood education and the role coordinated, external financing can play to achieve improved learning outcomes. Dr Sengeh used this platform to compliment Save the Children and the NGO consortium for delivering extremely well on the GPE grant.

To compliment government’s intervention the NGO-Consortium was led by Save the Children with six (6) national and international NGOs; Concern Worldwide, FOCUS 1000, Foundation for Rural and Urban Transformation (FoRUT), Handicap International and Plan International. It was responsible for reaching the most vulnerable and hard to reach schools, supporting innovation for distance learning for teachers and learners.  Through the consortium the project was able to directly reach over 101, 000 children in 560 primary and junior secondary schools with COVID-19 education messages, distance learning opportunities and support the return of girls and boys to safe, gender-sensitive and inclusive learning schools.

Impressions of the Sierra Leone programme

On the whole, Janti and the team were truly impressed by the quality of the Country Office’s programmes, the energy and collaborative spirit of staff, engagement with government and partners as well as the exemplary work we are doing through child engagement and participation. This came through strongly after meetings with adolescents and executive members of the Children’s Forum Network (CFN), a national child-led body under the umbrella of Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, who shared their views on issues affecting children and the work they have been doing to realize children’s rights.

The team was inspired by CFN’s energy and vision to strengthen the network and reach more children in all districts who they believe can contribute to advocating for their peers.

The Sierra Leone country office appreciates this timely visit by Janti, Bradley, Debra, Corinne and Raj. It has been a great boost to staff who feel proud and fired up to continue to deliver with quality and whatever it takes to ensure children survive, learn are protected and participate in making Sierra Leone a better place for children.