Home / News / News archive / 2010 / December 2010 / "My goodness you have grown!" SOS Trustee re-visits sponsored child in The Gambia
The Gambia
Gambia mother and child
At present SOS Children's Villages supports over 23,000 people in The Gambia through 2 Children’s Villages, a youth home, 2 Nursery Schools, 2 primary schools, an SOS Vocational Training Centre, a Family Strengthening Programme and a Medical Centre. … more about our charity work in The Gambia

"My goodness you have grown!" SOS Trustee re-visits sponsored child in The Gambia

"My goodness you have grown!" SOS Trustee re-visits sponsored child in The Gambia

David Stranack, SOS UK Trustee, reflects on his experiences visiting his own sponsored child in Bakoteh, The Gambia.

 "A few weeks ago my wife and I visited the SOS Children's Village at Bakoteh in The Gambia. Out of all the five hundred plus SOS Villages around the world, Bakoteh is a bit special for us because it’s the home of the little girl we sponsor, Kanny. We hadn’t seen Kanny for two years, and my goodness how she had grown! She had had her seventh birthday the week before our visit, and was excited by the belated birthday present we had brought her. She unwrapped it carefully, fending off her five younger siblings who were all desperate to get  a look in.

I think one of the things that impresses many of the people who visit our Villages is the ‘naturalness’ of family life. The situations and circumstances that bring children to our door are diverse, and often distressing. But once they begin living in one of the homes within the Village, whatever their previous circumstances may have been, they become an integral part of an established family.  When we look across the highly developed and sophisticated world of which we are part, and observe within it the gradual loosening and disintegration of traditional family bonds, it has to be a source of wonder, and indeed inspiration, that SOS’s Children’s Villages are actually regenerating all that is good about family life, even though the children we care for are not blood relations.

Anyway, after Kanny’s present had been put away, well out of the reach of the littler ones, she was desperate to take us on a tour of the Village. As ever, it was immaculately well kept, and every where you went you would get a wave and a happy smile from the children who were playing around. Kanny was determined to demonstrate to us her prowess on the swing in the playground – standing up, and reaching a height at which I had to look away! But then it was time for lunch, and Auntie – the Mum of the family was away at the time – seven children, and us two elderly Brits gathered around the central table in the living room for a traditional Gambian meal. It was a fascinating and different experience – and we felt hugely privileged.

I have said before that seeing is believing. And it’s true. We are so grateful to all the generous people in the UK who help to support the 78,000 children in our care. But if you do have an opportunity to call in on one of our Villages – whether travelling on holiday or business or whatever – do so. It’s only when you have a first hand opportunity to see for yourself what life is like in an SOS Village, that you can truly appreciate the loving family environment we are making available to so many children."