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Child Sponsorship Report 2009, from Dassa in Benin

Sponsored child from Dassa
Sponsored child from Dassa

a child sponsorship report from Dassa in Benin. Written in 2009.

Dear Sponsors and Child Sponsors,

We're very happy to give you information on the SOS Children's Village Dassa-Zoumè.

At the national level, Benin our country hosted on Monday, October 12th 2009 the official launch of the campaign against trafficking of fake medicines. This campaign is the work of the Chirac Foundation of former French president. The launch took place at the “Palais des Congrès” in Cotonou and experienced the actual presence of several Heads of State committed to the cause. In another development, the long rainy season this year was characterized by flooding in parts of Mono-Couffo and Ouémé-Plateau regions. Indeed, the waters of the Mono and Ouémé rivers overflowed, causing flooding in surrounding communities and thus bringing people into disarray. This is tangible evidence that Benin as other African countries, suffer heavily from the consequences of climate change. The overwhelmed Government of Benin appealed to the international community to come and help because the flood victims are tens of thousands. It should be noted however that no SOS Children's Village has been affected by the floods.

On a happier hand, our national soccer team is superbly qualified for the Cup of African Nations 2010. It broke the myth of the invincibility of Ghana which had hitherto faultless four matches with four victories. Several scoring opportunities were offered to the Benin team which dominated the match from the beginning to the end, but the only goal of the victory came at the last minute. This victory was an occasion of jubilation across the country.

The SOS Children's Village of Dassa-Zoumè now has 113 children including 47 girls and 66 boys who live in the 12 family houses, but three of them live in their biological families and are still taken care of by the village. Four more children were admitted during this year. These children were living in deplorable living conditions (lack of food and care) before their admission. The child Catherine who had bone calcification problems, has undergone surgery at her legs to permit her to walk properly. This surgery was successful and Cathérine walks now more or less normally.

For their development, children practice various activities such as football, basketball, traditional dance, theater and music. They also amazed everyone with their cultural performances during the Mother's Day, the African Child Day and the SOS Children's Villages Day. The celebration of SOS Children's Villages Day was held in a very good atmosphere with a series of events, namely physical sport, culture and brain exercices. The basketball team of the children in our care participated in several competitions and won the first prize in their category. It also attended the national basketball championship in Cotonou, from October 16th to 18th. But its performance was not excellent. Academically speaking, 85 children in our care attended our Primary School during the 2008-2009 school year. 85.04% passed to the next class and 95.65% of candidates for the Certificate of Primary Studies also passed. We register for the new school year, 7 new secondary school students, this brings the total number of our secondary school students to 17. The full development of all children in our care remains a priority for us.

As in previous years, the celebration of the SOS children’s villages Day on June 23rd, was held with great emotion. Many children spent the holidays in biological families, those who remained in the village benefited from a three-day trip in Parakou in northern Benin. In September, some children benefited from the discovery of the royal palace of Savalou where they were received by the king of the town. An opportunity was offered to some children to spend two weeks in Ghana for linguistic interaction. But others went to SOS children’s village Abomey-Calavi, this is the evidence of a healthy relationship between the SOS Children's Villages. As part of the fight against corporal punishment, many visits and sensitization sessions were conducted towards the biological families of the children in our care, during the holidays. We hope that Christmas will be very pleasant this year and it will be the same for the new year. This year, SOS Children International celebrates its 60th anniversary and our village has not stayed on the sidelines of the event. Indeed, among other activities that have been planned, there is a march through the city of Dassa-Zoumè as well as radio broadcasts to raise awareness about the cause of children in difficult circumstances. 

The children in our care, like the children of the community, made the 2009-2010 school resumption, on last October 1st. Our primary school now has about 235 pupils including about 80 children in our care. Some parents from the community could not enroll their children for lack of place; our school is valued by the community because of the quality of our infrastructure and the teaching that is given there. For leisure time, all pupils are engaged in various activities according to their talent and taste. There is football, basketball, local dances, modern music, shoemaking, sewing, painting, drawing, calligraphy, ballet, theater. All these activities are created for their entertainment. They amazed everybody with their cultural performances at the last end-of-year school festival. Under the school football championship, the school delivered several matches and won a trophy at the level of the school district of Dassa-Zoumè. They also made a trip to the royal palace of Dassa-Zoumè and Ilema radio. At the Hermann Gmeiner Primary School, pupils learn among other things, English, computer science and they have a library to expand their knowledge outside school hours. The fight against corporal punishment was the spearhead of the school year in advocacy. Indeed, sensitization sessions for teachers from ten primary schools in the area were organized by a joint committee composed of members from our primary school and kindergarten. The parents were also met twice by that committee to raise their awareness about the harmful effects of the phenomenon. In addition, the school offered scholarships to 5 children from the poorest families in the community and tutors them properly .

The SOS nursery is a reference education center in Dassa-Zoumè. The school resumption actually began on October 2nd, 2009. During the last school year, it welcomed 48 children including 13 children in our care. 22 children were enrolled in grade 1 and 26 in grade 2. Children received several educational exits including visits to public places, the city hall, a mini zoo and a large orchard in the district Essèbrè. Besides, for their full development, they are engaged in extra curricular activities such as drawing, decorating, dance and theater. At the end of last school year,  all the children passed to the next grade. During the end-of-year festival that preceded the big holidays, the children exhibited their works of art and gifts were offered to them. They amazed the audience through a ballet, singing and skits. In September, the SOS mothers and the teaching staff were entitled to a training session on speech therapy and related diseases. At the end of last school year, the staff of the garden benefited from a leisure trip to Grand Popo at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

The SOS medical and social center remains a center for quality health and exemplary hospitality, quality of care and performance of equipment and personnel. Indeed, the center is experiencing a constantly increasing number of visitors from the community for various health as well as social concerns. it runs regularly and even in time of public sector strike. It also organizes training sessions, sensitization and information for the community. It should be noted that like other staff members of the village, the staff of the center have benefited from a pleasure trip to Grand Popo in September. The Medico-Social Center also brings social support through the Family Strengthening Program (FSP); this is a support for children in their biological families through food, medical, educational and psychosocial support. The FSP supports 210 children in 63 families. In schools, 72% of the children supported by the center passed their exams. To encourage those of them who passed, a trip was organized for some of them to the cities of Cotonou and Ouidah, and to the city of Natitingou for others. Communication and sensitization activities were conducted for a change of behavior in the fight against AIDS and malaria. For this purpose, a strategy for proximity sensitization was adopted and video presentations were made followed by debates.

Thank you very much for all your support without which we could not achieve our objectives. Thanks to your generosity, hundreds of children without parental care or who runs the risk of losing parental care, have found a smile again.

Yours gratefully,