public space challenge: 2019-2020


How do you transform a slum into a creative space where young people love to live? Through this project more than 100 young people from Sierra Leone will tackle this question when they sign up for The Urban Space Challenge 2019. For 6 months, the participants will design, test and develop new ideas for how slums can become more lovable, dreamy, chill, green, cultural, artsy, musical, sportified, you name it!  In addition to designing physical spaces, the project includes inspiring trainings in core leadership disciplines with an ambition to support young people’s drive towards taking the lead in community development. 

The project takes place in Kissy - an urban slum community located in the Eastern part of Freetown. With over 75,000 people, Kissy is one of the most densely populated communities in the capital. Youth make up 65% of population. Kissy is marked by a bad reputation and youth feel stigmatised. Stories about the community tend to focus on the youth unemployment rate, which is close to 90 %, the community having one of the highest crime rates in the country, and the strong presence of drugs and commercial sex work. The Urban Space Challenge will reframe these negative narratives and bring light to Kissy’s vibrant youth culture. The project is a collaboration between Dreamtown and YMCA.




The project is a cross sectoral collaborative effort between Dreamtown, the Australian organisation Urban Synergies Group, the Sierra Leonean NGO Youth Dream Centre Sierra Leone (YDC-SL), the University of Makeni, and the University of Canberra- Health Research Institute, funded by the Danish Civil Society in Development (CISU). With an overall goal to improve the wellbeing of young people in urban Sierra Leone, the project will increase participation for young people in shaping society and improve their access to safe and inclusive public spaces in the city. We see public spaces as opportunities to generate ownership and citizen involvement.

The intervention links to SDG11 - creating access to space(s) for a young civil society through the development of public spaces that address the dreams and visions of urban youth. The spaces will be developed in communities in need of a more youth friendly and inclusive environment to promote youth participation.

Illustration by Daniella Mews / Urban Synergies Group

Safe and creative learning spaces: 2011-2018


Dreamtown has worked with the local organisation Youth Dream Centre (YDC) in Sierra Leone through three projects, providing free non-formal education for vulnerable youth in a safe and creative learning environment. Working towards the empowerment of dropout youths, Dreamtown has focused on supporting and strengthening the capacity and reach of YDC. YDC's educational activities target marginalised and vulnerable children and youth who are unable to participate in the formal school system. In the Non-formal Education Programme, volunteers conduct daily lessons in basic numeracy, literacy, civic education, health education, and other relevant subjects. Information and Communication Technology and Media Training gives access to computer and media training that is otherwise inaccessible for youth - empowering them on the job market, while giving them a voice to advocate for their rights. The Technical and Vocational Skills Project targets teenage mothers and women with family responsibilities through skills training, to increase their job opportunities and make them more independent.

When we started the partnership, YDC reached 50 young people. Today, we are proud to see YDC operating across three cities (Freetown, Magburaka, and Makeni), providing free education to more than 500 young people on a daily basis, while training them to talk to local authorities and mobilise communities. Since 2011, three projects on non-formal education have been supported by CISUs Civil Society Fund

humanitarian response to flooding: 2017


In August 2017, Freetown was hit by a disastrous flooding and mudslide, causing the death of more than 1000 people, leaving many thousands homeless. Dreamtown did an intervention with Youth Dream Centre Sierra Leone, supported by the Danish Emergency Relief Fund.

The lives of vulnerable children and youth are particularly exposed to negative impacts of disasters. Focussing on their needs, our intervention supported some of the most vulnerable affected children and youth with sanitation kits, education materials, and scholarships, so they can stay healthy and continue their education. Education can be life saving for children and youth in emergency situations, through provision of a safe, supervised environment, and engagement in structured activities with the chance of learning to cope with increased risks and shielding from exploitation. 

Given the opportunity, local organisations have the ability to solve problems in their communities. Our intervention also established a local network of six community based organisation, using community mobilisation to raise awareness about disaster risk management in disaster risk prone areas. Through the intervention, almost 4000 people in six disaster affected communities increased their resilience to disasters through community-led sensitisation campaigns, 120 children and youth received emergency relief, and almost 300 youth were trained in disaster risk reduction.