We are very much grateful to share with you some of the major events and activities in our beloved village SOS Children’s Village Bakoteh, its affiliated projects and our country The Gambia as a whole. The general condition of life in our village is positively maintaining its face. We register our appreciation and support of all staff and partners in our noble work for vulnerable children. As at now the climate is warm and we are all hoping for the rains to start anytime from now. The country played host to many countries who were here on development missions. We are happy to say that the most acclaimed Roots Home Coming Festival which is being held in the home town of our President will be the centre stage as many cultural groups from many countries will grace this occasion and we hope that it will be successful. Please follow as we give you a run down of activities as they unfold in our projects.
SOS Children's Village Bakoteh, SOS Nursery and SOS Youth Home
The SOS Children’s Village together with the Youth Village Bakoteh accommodate 114 children. Out of which 94 are living in the SOS Children’s Village of which 57 girls and 37 boys’ whiles the Youth village is home to 20 youth boys.
The village welcomed 2010 with a Christmas party held on 2nd January and was well attended by children, mothers, youths and staff. In spicing the liveliness of the village, a friend of SOS Children’s Village Bakoteh sponsored the initiation of Njembeh (local drumming) classes for children between the age ranges 8 – 13. The board of Directors from the Jammeh Foundation for Peace on 19th January donated a 40ft container loaded with valuable items for the two SOS Children’s Villages (Bakoteh & Basse) and the Family Strengthening Programme (FSP.) The second part of the village evaluation was conducted on 1st February 2010 pertinent issues related to the job and the village as a whole were discussed. This year’s SOS Day Celebration will take a new style as we have many activities in store outlined as follows: “The Most Child Friendly House” and “Best Front Yard Garden”, “The Best Cake” prepared by children and their mothers and the Fastest Family i.e. children and mother of one house competing in a relay against other houses and “The Best Singing House” and to crown it all “Miss Mother SOS”. The cat walk by mothers and aunties I’m sure will make the audience laugh their heads off.
The village witnessed the transfer of 12 youth girl’s to a house within the village transformed into a youth home for girls the 10th February. A meeting was convened by the Child Admission Committee to discuss issues of relevance to our work on 12th February with our partner, the Department of Social Welfare on the 12th February. A Chairman of the children’s court accompanied by his colleagues visited the village on 24th February to familiarize themselves with work the operations of Institutions and Organizations working with and / or for children. The Village Director accompanied by her Assistant and the SOS Nursery Director attended the Youth Forum at the Regional Office on 26th February 2010 and the nine babies from the babies transit home were moved into the family houses after having received the approved for permanent placement letter from the Department of Social Welfare.
The SOS Nursery has a roll call of 223 pupils out of which 30 are SOS children. The National Education and Training Adviser from the 5th – 7th January, organised a workshop for the SOS Nursery staff of SOS Children’s Villages Bakoteh and Basse respectively based on the drafted nursery curriculum, review of the Child Development Plan, Progress and Neatness card, scheme of work and the lesson plan preparation. From the 8th – 9th January 2010, a staff development workshop was held to review the first terms work as well as draw up the plan of activities for the 2nd term i.e. for the year 2009/2010 academic year. On 25th January, 70 pupils from group threes went on an excursion to 2 GSM companies. The SOS Nursery pupils also participated in the Commonwealth day celebrations held on 7th March 2010 as well as the Early Childhood Development March pass held at the Independence Stadium on 9th March 2010. 26th March was the SOS Nursery Annual sports competition this was done to display the children’s sports talents and to compete amongst themselves in terms of sports.
Health had been the issue of the Youth Village but now it has become a thing of the past with few cases recorded and the contributive factor must be the regular provision of repellents. The Youths menu is always revisited. Youth continue to play games at regular intervals balancing with educational pursuit. On the aspect of education, three youth girls who gained entry to SOS Senior Secondary School- Grade 10, are doing well and four of our youth boys wrote the WAEC conducted West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE). This Year, the national examination, Gambia Basic Education Certificate Examination is being attempted by six of our youths. The Youth Village is involved in the preparations of Youth Forum delegates as set out by the National Youth Development Team (NYDT).
The SOS Lower & Upper Basic Schools have a roll call of 835 pupils. There are 410 boys and 425 girls. There are 408 students in the morning shift and 427 students in the afternoon shift. We have 13 SOS children in the Upper Basic and 40 in the Lower Basic and a teaching staff of 59 (42 males and 17 females).
As part of staff development, science teachers in the Upper Basic attended a Practical Microscopic Instruction workshop. A Science teacher attended a three day workshop on the Use of Life Skills Training Manual. The Physical Education teachers attended a one day coaching and technical training aimed at informing them about new changes and techniques in athletics. The French teachers also attended a two day congress at the Alliance Franco-Gambienne in a bid to have an impact on the overall teaching and learning of French in The Gambia in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and Regional Education Directorate One. The Pro-Poor Advocacy Group (Pro-PAG) responding to the capacity building needs of the National Assembly, visited the school on Wednesday 10th of March 2010 to test the Community Score Card instrument. The school was chosen as an intervention site to compare entitlements as spelt out in the Education Policy and what it obtains on the ground. The school organized its Inter House sports competition and also took part in the Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Competition which was organized at the Independence Stadium. We have been in close collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education Officials from the Regional Education Directorate One, who have been visiting the school to monitor the teaching and learning process. A Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) meeting was held in order to involve them in decision making. A Student Welfare Committee constantly looks into the welfare of students both within and out of school. The school organized a graduation ceremony for students in grade 9 who have just finished sitting to the Gambia Basic Education Certificate Exams (GABECE). To enhance environmental sanitation, the school carried out series of monthly environmental cleansing exercise along the school’s drive way and the entire school compound. Pupils from SOS Nursery and from our Lower Basic, as well as community students across the country took the exams. Child protection issues are implemented and every staff member is aware of its importance and all stake holders are well informed about its importance. A consignment of school furniture was received and the items were donated by Claire Nuttal, head teacher of Henry Fawcett Primary School in London U.K.
SOS Technical Senior Secondary School registered steady but significant progress in all areas of work. In the areas of Child Rights and Protection, the Guidance and Counselling Department in collaboration with the Child Protection Officer and the Peace Pal Club organised a sensitisation workshop on career guidance, health, tourism and pertinent issues relating to the external examinations. Resources persons were drawn from various departments to talk to children on what they have to offer in their Institutions in the names of The Gambia Technical Training Institute, Gambia College and the Gambia Tourism Authority. A lecture was also organised by a lady (victim of breast cancer) for students in the 11th grade. She shared her experience and offered advice on steps to detect the disease at an early age, leaflets were given and a PowerPoint presentation was done. A hundred students from the Business and Social Science Departments were involved in field trips in various places within the Greater Banjul Area. Recently three hundred students graduated from the school after completing 3 years of Senior School education.
SOS Training & Production Centre and SOS Regional & Mother Adult Training Centre
The SOS Training & Production Centre now has a roll call of 70 after 4 students left during the first term of their training. There are twenty-four students in Carpentry, twenty-two each in Metalwork and Auto mechanic respectively. The academic year is drawing to an end and the graduating students are being sent on industrial attachment. 17 of the graduates of the year 2009 were retained at the companies they were sent for industrial attachment and 3 are self employed. 1 former carpentry student who graduated from this Centre since 1990 and travelled to the United Kingdom is back in The Gambia for a visit and decided to call on us last week. He is very appreciative of what he gained from this Centre. According to him, he was working on building construction in the United Kingdom and has plans to set up something in The Gambia if possible. During the last week of April, the instructors had a three-day workshop on Assessment at the Centre, followed by a meeting to discuss its outcome.
The SOS Regional Mother Adult Training Centre in fulfilling its training mandate is supporting the National continuous training programme of SOS Children’s Villages in our sub region. On the 15th April 2010, 25 grandaunts were certificated in the second graduation ceremony of Social Work Program at the Centre and equally following up Social Welfare Department for the review of the Social Work Curriculum. 26 registered students for the 2009/10 academic session are in their second semester. The Social Work Department is currently organising community-based classes to mobilise and empower people, learn and share experiences. The Vocational and Literacy Programs of the Centre have expanded greatly as mothers/aunties participating in the Family-Based Literacy Program at the SOS Children’s Village Bakoteh has gone up to eleven and the impact has been very impressive. The Functional Adult Literacy for the community is on-going with 6 active participants and in a bid to enhance their job performance, to which 8 of our staff participated .Presently, 26 students are enrolled for different catering/hotel management courses which started in January and 13 of the 25 students in second year are back from industrial attachment to complete their program by July. The Sewing/Craftwork Department has sent 4 students on industrial attachment while 13 others have continued their program. Being licensed by the National Training Authority to run certificate courses in Social Work Program, Sewing/Craftwork, Literacy and Catering, the Centre has now designed a standard certificate for its skills programs. Considering other developments, the Centre submitted a proposal for the expansion of its facilities. This will lend more credence to our existing licensed programs. It is also working out ways of forming partnership with four skills institutions.
SOS Mother and Child Clinic
Over the years SOS Mother and Child Clinic has been able to provide effective quality health care system not only to the SOS Children, staff and their families but also to the community at large. Our mission has been to offer services of preventive and curative treatment mostly to women and children. For the past 12 years, SOS Mother & Child Clinic has been providing effective and quality health care services to its clients all over the country. Further more we are happy to say that our maternity unit as mentioned in the last report has been completed. It is now fully operational. Six new Nurse Midwives have been appointed. So far, 72 normal deliveries have been conducted. From January to April 2010, 825 new patients were seen in the clinic. 454 were adults while the remaining 371 were children, but in addition to this 4712 patients came for the subsequent visits. 67 % were children (in which weight check and immunization inclusive) 22% for women who came for Antenatal care and Family Planning services and the 11% constitutes of male patients.
SOS Family Strengthening Programme
The Family Strengthening Programme that counts 587 beneficiaries in 132 families is here to give great sense of confidence and assertiveness to vulnerable children through a designed process with official permission for a course of action to take place. Child poverty and suffering is endemic in the communities we operate. Most of the families in the programme find it difficult to afford a meal a day. This has resulted in many children of the targeted families to be malnourished and under weight as most of the children had diarrhoea, dysentery and/or cholera and the programme significantly improved the situation. The programme supported 34 students for the first quarter of 2010 and each child beneficiary received this educational support. In the previous months, focus was on education, psychosocial support, up dating family files and administering individual business plan to generate income for the fact that our targeted families do not have stable source of income so they resort to petty trading.
SOS family join me to wish you all the very best and thank you for your support towards our work for the needy children of our country The Gambia.
Mrs. Mariama Bayo Sidibeh
National Sponsorship Coordinator
This report may have been written by someone whose first language is not English. It has been left unedited, as this is how a sponsor would receive it.