Over the last 13 years L.A.C.E.S. has served former child soliders, street children, Ebola Orphans and refugees in Liberia and Washington D.C. and on Feb 22nd we took the next steps to our global expansion by kicking off in Sierra Leone, West Africa. While you will hear more in the upcoming posts about our global expansion such as why Sierra Leone was our first step and more about the organization we are partnering with in Sierra Leone but for now I just wanted to share with you a bit about my trip to Sierra Leone and highlights of the days that lead up to the kick-off of the L.A.C.E.S. program in Sierra Leone.
Day 1: I (Seren) arrived in Sierra Leone to get to know our coaches and meet with the leadership team of our partner organization Love One Another to dive deeper into what the upcoming year will look like.
Day 2-5: Louis Roberts, Director of Mentoring and Coaching spent five days training the twelve new coaches on the L.A.C.E.S. mission, vision and methods of mentoring and coaching. These twelve individuals who are now trained on the L.A.C.E.S. curriculum will invest in the lives of 144 street living children.
Day 5: Now that we had 12 coaches trained on L.A.C.E.S. curriculum we were now ready to register 144 street children in Sierra Leone. The youth selected to be part of the program are boys and girls between the ages of 10-14. The children in our program have overcome and still trying to walk through life challenges that have been thrown at them at such a young age. Some are Ebola Orphans, others begs on the streets to find food, some have escaped from child trafficking and others have been abandon by their parents. Each one of them has had a different journey to the street and reasons why they are without family. On registration day they now are part of the L.A.C.E.S. family where they will begin to experience the love from their new family.
Day 6: Teams were formed. Six boys teams and six girl’s teams.
Day 7: We marched through the streets of Bo, Sierra Leone sharing with the community the change they were about to see in these children’s lives. We had an official opening ceremony where leaders in the community joined us as we shared the L.A.C.E.S. mission and vision and they pledged their support to this new program. Our girl’s team kicked-off the season with their first match and the boys followed. When we finished children, coaches, staff and community members gathered together to share a meal. Life And Change Experienced thru Sports coaches in partnership with Love One Another are starting their journey with these 144 children.
I am excited to see this next chapter of L.A.C.E.S. unfold in Sierra Leone. With 13 years of experience in mentoring youth through sports we can’t wait to see the impact L.A.C.E.S. model will have on the street children in Sierra Leone and around the globe in the coming years.
Special Thank you to:
- Vienna Youth Soccer for donating cleats and soccer balls to this program.
- Lauren Anders Brown for giving of her beautiful talent to capture these moments in video (video coming soon).
- Love One Another for partnering with us in launching L.A.C.E.S. program in Sierra Leone
With Lots of Love and Grattitude for your support,
Founder and Executive Director