The UNICEF representative in Sierra Leone Belgian Geert Capperlaere in a farewell cocktail with the press last Thursday at the Kimbima Hotel said after four and a half years in Sierra Leone, he is not desperate to leave but rather leaving with hope for a better Sierra Leone.
The UNICEF Rep who said he worked in the Middle East before coming to Sierra Leone was very amazed and happy for the openness in which the press, government and institutions dialogued.
He said that every topic that comes out has no secrecy and it is debated to the fullest. This he said makes Sierra Leone a unique country and he encouraged the government and the press to continue dialogue to solve the children’s right and parenting in the country.
Geert Capperlaere praised the efforts of Fourah Bay College and the Mass Communication department especially, which is headed by Bernadette Cole. He said the programmes organized by the Mount Aureol radio and other radio stations across the country have been very effective in combating child abuse. He also commended the newspapers and pleaded for more support to help UNICEF in succeeding in their drive to eradicate child abuse in the country.
He told journalists that UNICEF is ready to support them with in logistical support so long as they are sincere in helping UNICEF to succeed.
The chairman of the programme, Umaru Fofanah who is the SLAJ president commended Geert Capperlaere for his unflinching support to child’s right in the country and also told journalists to help by reporting regularly on children and other abuse associated with children’s problem.
The IMC chair, Bernadette Cole expressed her gratitude to the outgoing UNIECF Rep and spoke of a new project that is ongoing at FBC as they are building a station for Voice of Children and she said she was disappointed that he would not be around when the project kicks off.
She however commended him for his excellent support in the country to alleviate poverty and promote child’s right. She said that the deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Redwood Sawyer has been always ready to support any programme or project from UNICEF and they too were very sad that he was leaving.
She presented a gift from the university and said they hope that even though he was leaving, he might still come back someday to the country. She said that more programmes are being lined up to get the message all over the country to sensitize all parents about the rights of the child and she appealed to the print and electronic media to do as mush as possible in the sensitization drive.
Questions were asked that were answered favourably by the chairman of the occasion Umaru Fofanah, the IMC chair Bernadette Cole and the outgoing UNICEF Rep Geert Capperlaere.