Julie Wilson is our Finance and Administrative Officer. Born and raised in Freetown, before becoming part of the AdvocAid family, Julie worked with both the Brookfields Community Hospital and Rokel Commercial Bank. She started with AdvocAid in July 2010 and has been providing vital administrative, project management and financial services ever since! In this blog, Julie discusses her motivations for working with AdvocAid and how the organisation has grown to what it has become today.
I started working for AdvocAid in July 2010, when the organisation had its first self-owned office space. I worked with the former Executive Director and co-founder, Sabrina Mahtani, to set up the office so that we could expand as we wanted which was a very exciting process. At that time we had very little furniture in the office, no generator, and no internet connection except for the one that was personally owned by Sabrina. If there was a power failure for the whole day, it meant that I could not work as I was using a laptop with a very weak battery. It was not really easy during those early days, but with determination and the passion for the girls and women we are advocating for, we strived to reach where we are today. To God be the glory! I admired the selfless nature of Sabrina, for there was a period when she had to go without a salary for months due to lack of funding. Her sacrifices really motivated me.
One experience that was a particularly proud moment for me was when I was able to reunite a teenage girl with her family in Kono. Although I was the Finance Officer, in the early years we had no social worker and programme officer, so I often had to fulfill those duties. Our paralegal met a teenage girl in the correctional center who was later represented by our Duty Counsel. After our Duty Counsel secured her release, she came to the office as our clients often do, and narrated her story. It was a very distressing one indeed. She had no relatives in Freetown and had no place to stay. I had to make arrangements for her to stay at the Don Bosco Home, but that was a long process to organise, so in the interim she had to stay with our paralegal Marvel. We discovered that this girl was pregnant and she was determined not to keep the pregnancy because she wanted to reunite with her family, who will not accept her with the pregnancy. I then had the daunting task to speak with the father.
We spoke to the father on several occasions and eventually he agreed to accept her and even promised he will travel to Freetown to pick her up. I was overwhelmed with joy, especially when our client and the father were reunited in our office. It was an incredible sight to behold. This particular case taught me that as parents, we should not push our children too far away from us, as they can be influenced negatively by others.
Working with AdvocAid has taught me to see life from another perspective, and appreciate all that I have. I think AdvocAid is important because we are really creating an impact in so many women’s lives by advocating and fighting to liberate them. It was when I started working with AdvocAid that I saw what a prison cell looks like, and this has significantly impacted me.
As part of our 10-year anniversary celebrations, every month for 10 months, we’ll be showcasing the best of AdvocAid through guest blogs from our staff, volunteers, partners and board members.