"I grew up in very difficult circumstances. Our house wasn't far from the Village and many of my friends were SOS children. We were so poor at home that we often spent two or three days without something to eat. I was not able to study because there was no money to pay for school fees. The Village Director called me and asked me questions about my social situation. She began to give me food everyday and a few weeks later, she asked me to join the Village. I stayed in a family house there for eight months before moving to the SOS Youth Home.
I stayed at the Youth Home for three years and received training in carpentry. There were nine boys in our house and we had all the things we needed such as pocket money, food, clothes, school fees and medicine. Life in the Youth Home was different from that in the village. Our education focussed more on community life; we learnt how to make decisions and how to become responsible and independent.
I left the Youth Home after having completed my vocational training. Staff from the SOS Children’s Village encouraged me to be creative and set up a business of my own. I was sure that it would not work. But the Village Director was so supportive and the Village gave me a grant to open a carpentry workshop. I bought some working materials and I made a bed. A hotel keeper saw it; he was interested and ordered 50.
Today, I own a large carpentry workshop and have twelve permanent employees. I have many customers and people appreciate my work.
I am married and am the father of four children. I am not rich, but thanks to SOS Children, I can live well. I help my brothers and sisters as well as others who need my support. I know that I could never repay all that the Village has done for me, but I try to support people as much as I can.
Very often I wonder what I would have become without the support of SOS Children. The organisation's support shaped my life and gave me the possibility to become a man people can count on."
Worldwide, 12,000 SOS teenagers are currently living in 400 Youth Homes. Our Vocational Training Centres provide 17,500 young people with the chance to learn new skills and practical training. Learn more about our youth work in a special edition of Family Matters.
SOS Children are fully committed to preparing children in our care for life as independent young adults. Bakello, who moved into an SOS Children’s Village in Togo at 15, explains how the support he has received has helped him to become a happy and successful businessman and father.