Derived from the Fulani language spoken across various countries in Africa, SUDU means “home,” and the organization is committed to creating sustainable, child placement programs in regions where there are no existing formal foster care systems.
The idea of “fostering” children is not new to Sierra Leoneans, who have been informally fostering children through the “men pekin” culture, wherein, family members, friends, or community members take in displaced children that are not theirs. The issue with the “men pekin” culture is that it lacks accountability. Many of these foster parents are unprepared to be parents or lack the proper training to take care of a child that is not theirs and that may be suffering from trauma.
With our own specialized curriculum, SUDU assists families by training them on social-emotional development of children. The training that SUDU provides is not only important for the parents to feel prepared for the new addition to their family, but that the child feels integrated into the community. Our existing program focuses on training and development of potential parents and placement of children between ages 3-6 years—the most critical developmental ages.
Before SUDU enters a community, we do extensive research on the community, which includes a community landscape assessment and meetings with key leaders and community members to explain our mission, initiatives and vision. After developing a great relationship with the community, and through the consent of the community leaders, SUDU finds families through a multi-step process. Through our initial interest intake or Family Engagement events, a rigorous background check and reference check are completed.
Through the Family Training Program, children will live in homes with parents with no more than five other family members, and parents will be trained on creating authentic family relationships.
SUDU foster parents are required to do an initial training prior to placing the child where critical topics are covered, such as:
- “How do I support my child in their education?”
- “How do I ensure my child feels loved?”
- “What activities can I do around my home and neighborhood to engage my child and his/her foster siblings (free/no cost)”
- “How do I nurture my child’s self-esteem?”
After the initial training, parents are required to partake in quarterly trainings for the 1st year. We are confident that these trainings will lead to parents who are not only prepared to fully integrate a displaced child into their homes, but will also improve how they generally parent in their homes. These trainings will cover such topics as:
- “What developmental markers should I be mindful of and how can I spot whether my child is or isn’t developing along the normal trajectory?”
- “What milestones should my child reach? What do I do if they do not reach these milestones?”
We also offer childcare institutions training to their childcare givers.
We envision a Sierra Leone where every orphaned and displaced child will be welcomed into loving homes that enable them to live physically and emotionally healthy lives and gain equal access to a high quality education.