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Child Sponsorship Report 2009, from Abomey-Calavi, Benin

Sponsored children from Abomey-Calavi
Sponsored children from Abomey-Calavi

A child sponsorship report from Abomey-Calavi in Benin. Written in 2009.

Dear Child and Village Sponsors,

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

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 for 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.

92 children including 45 boys and 47 girls have lived in the SOS Children's Village Abomey-Calavi from the beginning of 2009 to date. Among them are those who will soon leave for youth facility because of their age; girls go to youth facility when they get 16 years old while for boys it occurs at 14 years of age. There are eight children who meet the requirements to go to youth facility this year. They will join the thirty-one youth who are already in youth facilities. Also twenty-six youths are currently in separate accommodations. At this stage, they often live in two. They gradually learn to integrate into the community. It is in this rationale that 3 youths will go to independency at the end of this year. This means they will now take care of themselves. There are also 3 children in the village who live in boarding because of the type of school they attend. The Village also has 6 youth who are inserted into their biological families. But they are still supported by SOS children's village. The SOS mothers are an important component of our organization, so it is not possible to ignore the Mother's Day. Indeed, on Sunday, June 7th 2009, our village celebrated the Mother’s Day for our mothers who have worked hard for the welfare of the children in our care. They were particularly thanked. They were then reminded that this day is a holiday they all deserve. For several reasons, they deserve a day to be paid a tribute. What sacrifices they have made for the children! Anytime and anywhere, they know how to provide them with affection.

At the academic level, the SOS Children's Village Abomey-Calavi made spectacular progress. The results are very encouraging and complimentary. 260 out of 387 students who attended the Primary School during the 2008-2009 school year succeeded. 100% of candidates to the Certificate of Primary Studies passed their exam. Among them is the third of the Atlantic region. She was the top at the departmental level during the entry contest for the Natitingou military school for girls, in north-western Benin. Only the best students at the national level can have access to this school.

Our secondary crafts school has not ceased to surprise people. 24 candidates out of 25 passed their vocational O’level whereas 100% of 24 candidates passed their vocational A’level. All these results indicate the seriousness that characterizes the work being done in this school. The school resumption went well this year since last October 1st. Students resumed with more determination than ever to work better than in the past. Teachers are also ready to face the new school year with confidence and dedication.

In order to facilitate children’s development, the SOS Children's Village Abomey-Calavi has conducted in conjunction with other SOS institutions of Abomey-Calavi, a real battle against child abuse. Regarding the Primary School, field trips were arranged to other primary schools in the community to educate teachers about children's rights and against corporal punishment. Meetings were also organized for parents to educate them on child rights. Our nursery has not remained on the sidelines of this fight. it also held meetings with parents of its attendant children. It also arranged meetings with teachers of nurseries in the community. The village has also participated in several meetings and has organized several ones in conjunction with organizations that work for the welfare of children. As an illustration, it participated as a member of an NGOs network, to a sensitization of parents against child trafficking and labor. The prime target is the international Dantokpa market of Cotonou where there are often thousands of school-age children who carry heavy loads of items for sale. These children walk miles each day with loads exceeding their own body weight. They are dependent on their guardians’ mood who often mistreat them. Inter-active programs were broadcasted on a radio station that carries the name of the market. These different programs were made in Fongbe, the most widely spoken language in southern Benin. One youth leader of SOS Children's Village Abomey-Calavi was repeatedly invited to the programm. The cry of distress seems to have been understood, for the teenage protection forces have begun making unannounced raids on the Dantokpa market. School-age children are systematically taken and their guardians convened.

It should be noted finally that our social centre continues its crusade against unhappy childhood. The Family Strengthening Program is doing something useful through its policy to help reduce poverty by tackling the causes of child trafficking. Several families in crisis receive the services of this program. Under the program, many children are fully supported in both academic, health and social areas. With the worsening of economic difficulties, thereby increasing the number of poor families, support requests are increasing day by day. It should also be noted that the center has organized its fourth annual Global Peace Games for Children and Youth on last September 26th. This was attended by about 400 children and young people including those from the village and from the surrounding community. On this occasion, various competitions were organized in several disciplines, including global knowledge contest, drawing, soccer and other sports. The best two of each discipline received awards.
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. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!

Yours gratefully,