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Free Your Mind / Sierra Leone (FYM/SL) - the programme

An organization founded by and focused on the youth in Sierra Leone, based on Art Therapy principles and on programmes that will include art, music and drama. Working together as a group on the present, past and future life of the youth in Sierra Leone. That is what Free Your Mind is all about.

Free Your Mind is a programme especially written for the youth in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is a country where there has been a brutal war for years. Lots of kids became victim of this war. They have seen or been through a lot of (really) bad experiences. It has been peaceful for now for about nine years but these kids, youth by now, are still struggling with what has happened in the past. They can’t or do not dare to talk about it or their surrounding does not provide the place to do so. Sharing the experience itself and the feelings that come with it, is very important for dealing with a trauma.


Free your Mind is the place to be for these youths and is undertaking the problems stated above. The programme includes weekly meetings in which the youth, under guidance of an creative therapist and local volunteers, will have an active role in several creative activities. With the help of drawings, acting and music the youth will be asked to think about and express the themes: present, past and future.


By doing this the youth will be stimulated to tell their story on a non-verbal way and to share their experiences with their companions. From experience we know that making a drawing, acting or making music will help to make it easier to talk about what happened in the past. By sharing their stories the youth will find some peace within themselves and it gives them space to think about their future.

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Mission

Free Your Mind S/L wants to be supportive to youth in Sierra Leone that suffer the consequences of (severe) negative experiences due to the civil war or otherwise.


Through several creative activities the youth will be able to express their memories and feelings, and to share these with others. These activities will start (in small groups) with the present situation of the youth, to gently get to know each other. Once there is a bases of trust, the creative activities will deal with the past. The final sessions will deal with the future, and will focus on motivating and supporting the youth to take an active part in improving the future of themselves as well as their community.

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Vision

Through personal experience members of Free Your Mind S/L have seen that youth in Sierra Leone are still influenced by the consequences of what they have experienced during the civil war. Mostly these youths have to deal with the - sometimes horrible - experiences on their own. Several international studies have shown that being able to communicate about these experiences, will be beneficial for both the youths and their community. The same is true for other kinds of (severe) negative experiences.

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Founders/how FYM came to existentsSanne, Simone and Alpha

The founding members of Free Your Mind are Sanne Haanraads, Alpha Kamara and Simone Bonfrer. Both Sanne and Simone are Art Therapy graduates from the Netherlands (Europe) who have implemented their knowledge about Art Therapy into this organization. Alpha is born and raised in Sierra Leone and dedicated to help the youth in his country. Together they want to contribute to the post war rebuild of Sierra Leone.

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Dealing with youth and children

Free Your Mind is specifically written for the youth in Sierra Leone who have been through the war. They have several different war related experiences. For example: rape, murder, violence or an attack on their house or village. Some were used as sex slave or were forced to fight and take drugs. Many of them have lost their family members or friends, their home and their belongings.


Most of the youth in Sierra Leone have not yet dealt with the traumas they have been through in the war. These memories are having an impact on the life they are living now. In Sierra Leone people do not or barely talk about what has happened in the past and there is no professional help for this particular problem at all. Definitely there is a demand by the youth for this kind of help, like proved in a research done by Sanne Haanraads and Simone Bonfrer in the year 2009 – 2010. When people do not have the chance to talk about their traumas this can become a problem in their future.


Another part of the problem these youths are facing right now is that they are still suffering from poverty, unemployment and starvation.


When we talk about youth we mean people in the age between 15 and 30 years old. But Free Your Mind is more than that. FYM is also helping the children (age 8 – 14) in this country. They do not have experienced the war themselves but they do suffer from the after effect. Parents or family members with a post traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, stress, etc. It might not be as bad as the war itself, but it will influence the relationship between parent or family member and child. Also, some of these children do not have the opportunity to go to school. They are growing up in a environment in where there is a lot of violence, no toilet facilities and a lot of hard work. Mostly they do not even have the opportunity to be a kid because they need to help their parents to sustain the family. It is a hard life for a child in Sierra Leone, a life wherein they do not learn that they have a voice of their own and that they also have rights.

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Activities + art therapy

FYM is based on art therapy. This is a form of therapy where people express their feelings in a creative way. For a lot of people it is not easy to talk about bad experiences or horrible memories. Art therapy is using art to overcome this barrier. The active and playful elements in art therapy create a possibility for empowerment and provides means to relieve emotions.

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Youth

Through several creative activities the youth will be able to express their memories and feelings, and to share these with others. These activities will start (in small groups) with the present situation of the youth, to gently get to know each other. Once there is a bases of trust, the creative activities will deal with the past. The final sessions will deal with the future, and will focus on motivating and supporting the youth to take an active part in improving the future of themselves as well as their community.


In this process they will learn how to:

  • speak in public,
  • share viewpoints and opinions,
  • improve their social skills.
  • be supportive to one another.


As an extra there might be possibilities to:

  • learn computer skills,
  • use the internet,
  • educate themselves.


Free Your Mind S/L wants to be supportive to youth in Sierra Leone and help them to achieve their goals in the future by learning them that they should take an active part in improving their own future as well as the future of their communities and the country as a whole.

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Children

We have developed a special programme for the children from the age of 8 years till 14 years old. In this programme we also deal with art, music and drama but we focus more on the present and future life. The main goal in this programme is that we learn the children to be bold, to let them gain experiences with speaking in public and to let them know that they also have a choice.

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Partner with

Future partners will be mentioned here.

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Contact information

Country Director
Alpha Kamara

Office (temporarily)
2B Syke street, Freetown Sierra Leone

Mobile
+232 - 76 77 43 65 (FYM)
+232 - 88 74 45 75 (Private)
+232 - 33 12 68 19 (Private)

E-mail
Please send your e-mail to: Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien.

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Brochure

FYM/SL brochure (English version)

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