MADAM (Mankind Activities Development Accreditation Movement)

MADAM was established in 1991 in Makorgba village, Kunike Barina Chiefdom, Tonkolili District, in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone.

Initially MADAM supported farmersí groups known as rural peoplesí organizations (rpos) and other people working in the agricultural sector.

In 1993 MADAM opened a small training centre in Makali, 50 km from the provincial capital Makeni. Carpentry and tailoring were the fields MADAM was focusing at.

The centre there had been looted by rebels in 1994 and 1995. The nearby Kangari hills, a forest area with a history of gold mining became the epicenter of the RUF (Revolution United Front). Therefore many people fled the region including MADAMís staff.

By the end of 1995 it was no longer possible to support people left behind. For this reason, help for the people of that region was offered in Mile 91 which is a small town on a crossroad which connects the Capital Freetown with the north and the southeast of the country. The town was a sanctuary for 45,000 refugees. The council agreed to offer a piece of land on which MADAM built improvised facilities, which were first used as a training centre. With two borrowed sewing machines, work started in Mile 91. The staff offered another two courses for carpenters and blacksmiths, which were supported by the British NGO "Tools for Self-reliance".

An additional improvised training centre was established closed to the Waterloo refugee camp, which is located just outside Freetown.

MADAM worked closely with other organizations which were active in that area. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) gave money and materials for more facilities, while CAUSA Canada supported MADAM by employing a psychologist for trauma workshops. In addition, the UN World Food Programme provided food to be used for the trainees.

The MADAM training centre was registered with the NCDDR (National Commission for Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration). As a consequence, the training was only offered to ex combatants at the beginning. At approximately the same time, MADAM applied for funding from "Bread for the World" for the rehabilitation of child -ex soldiers.

Several groups of ex-combatants had finished their training by then. They received some tools as a starter kit from the NCDDR program.

In 1999 MADAM achieved the status of a national NGO and established a liaison office in Freetown and additional training centres in Mile 91 and Waterloo.

"Bread for the World" sponsored the rehabilitation of child- ex soldiers as well as women and youths affected by violence during the war in the Mile 91 training centre while Episcopal Relief and Development sponsored the training of women and girls affected by the war in Waterloo. Between 2002 and 2003 the centre in Makali was re-built thus making MADAM to operate and run 3 training centres for both ex-combatants and youth affected by the war.

At that time three training programs were running in the three centres:

  •   Blacksmith and Toolmaker 
  •   Dressmaker
  •   Carpenter

The courses lasted for 8 months and 90% of the training was based on practical work.

After a one month introduction period, the trainees are trained on the job.

The result of this is that MADAM now receives orders for goods from both the local community and private individuals and produces them during the training program.

For example, in 2003, the blacksmith produced 500 bush knives and hoes for the FAO and the carpentry workshop played a part in rebuilding houses in the villages, including the production of doors and window frames. The training centre therefore functions as a small business, which finances itself through the profits made on its goods, training fees from the NCDDR and other donations.

During the starting phase there were three clear groups:

  • Ex combatants, financed through the NCDDR program (soldiers who returned their weapons, would   get a compensation)
  • Child soldiers
  • Non civil recruits ( youth and women , who were kidnapped and forced to work for the rebels, they are mostly women from the nearby refugee camps)

Additional services by MADAM

  • Job orientation
  • Trauma healing workshops during training
  • Advice and sensitisation on the topics: Gender, HIV/Aids
  • Lessons for illiterate people in writing and arithmetic

At the end, the trainees will be increasingly involved in the whole production process. That means they are part of the decision making process and calculate prices, design products and decide which materials to buy.  

Problems during training and reintegration

One of the main problems in the training was the fact that the trainees faced many different traumatic situations during the war. In the training centres two groups clash with each other. One group fought in the war and the other is the one which suffered at their hands.

During the first phase, it were mainly ex-combatants, who applied for training programmes, many of them still with blood on their hands. They had looted, killed and kidnapped. The second big group was displaced population, who lost their homes, their possessions and their families. Among them were young women, who were kidnapped by the rebels, raped several times and taken as wives against their will. Since this group did not have any kind of weapon, they did not stand to gain anything from the NCDDR programme. They have often been refused the opportunity of returning to their rural communities. Entirely reliant upon their own means, they struggled to survive and there was no social network to support them.

Child soldiers are both aggressors and victims. Most of them were kidnapped and so deprived of their youth and innocence. Many of them still suffer from their traumatic experiences. Their future would be without hope, should reintegration fail.

These two groups sat in the same classroom. Both parties were fierce enemies during the war.

MADAM staff had to deal with these conflicts repeatedly every day.

The psychological wounds of the war are very deep and many trainees talk about sleeping problems, nightmares and problems concentrating. Many are traumatized and others are drug dependent. This is why single- and group therapy took place in sessions once a month in the first half a year of the training programme.

Prior to the commencement of any course many talks were held with potential trainees to find out more about their personal histories and their motivation for attending the course as it is important to know more about their expectations and future plans.