Home / News / News archive / 2011 / September 2011 / A house of new beginnings: the Babies’ Transit Home in Bakoteh
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

A house of new beginnings: the Babies’ Transit Home in Bakoteh

A house of new beginnings: the Babies’ Transit Home in Bakoteh

In SOS Children's Village Bakoteh in The Gambia, a 'Babies' Transit Home' provides accommodation and specialised care for babies in emergency situations. Since it was founded, it has looked after over 80 vulnerable children.

The transit home for abandoned babies was first opened in SOS Children's Village Bakoteh, close to the capital Banjul, in 2004, after social services approached SOS Children to provide temporary care for babies in emergency situations. Whilst the children stay in the home, the department of social welfare and the police investigate and try to reunite the baby with his or her family or a foster family. In the event that this is not possible, the babies are taken in to live in a family in the SOS Children’s Village. Before the transit home existed, babies were kept in the country's main hospital, where they received very minimal care and attention.

The children come to the home for a variety of reasons. Some have been abandoned, dropped in front of the SOS Children's Village, or outside a hospital or in a street. Others have been orphaned and have no family to care for them. Some babies arrive at just one day old; some are a few weeks. But all arrive unhappy and confused, in need of safety and comfort.

With the care of specialised nurses and SOS staff around the clock, the young ones soon realise that their new environment is safe. Staff reassure them, giving them cuddles, talking to them, and singing songs. Some of them arrive in the home with severe health conditions and need special medical follow-up and treatments, which they either get at the SOS Mother and Child Clinic or at the main hospital in Banjul, the capital city.

Within days, the babies begin expressing themselves again. Smiles come back and babies sing, giggle, shout, and cry, understanding they are now allowed to express their feelings. Marie, an SOS staff member who works in the home, says, "the transit home is where you can find the cutest of all babies, especially if you watch them sleeping".
Margeret and bay, Bakoteh babies' home, The Gambia
SOS mothers and children from the Children’s Village enjoy visiting the babies’ home to play with them. Fifteen-year-old Margaret (see photo, right) is one of the regular visitors. She lives in one of the two SOS Youth Homes right next door to the transit home and has established a special relationship with Mariama, a little girl less than a year old. Margaret often takes Mariama to the playground in the SOS Village or to her former family home in the SOS Children's Village, where they play with her younger SOS brothers and sisters.

Since it was opened, the transit home for babies has offered temporary care for 80 vulnerable babies. Sixteen of these have been reunited with their families or foster families, 47 were admitted in the SOS Children's Village and sadly eight passed away due to illnesses. At the moment, there are nine little children receiving all the affection and care they deserve in the transit home. Find out how you can support our work in Bakoteh.