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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

Wedding gifts make a difference to children in The Gambia

Ian and Sharon at SOS Children's Village Bakoteh
Ian and Sharon at SOS Children's Village Bakoteh

When Ian and Sharon tied the knot at the end of June, they decided to request that, should their guests wish to buy them a gift in celebration, they donate instead towards clothing for the children living at SOS Children’s Village Bakoteh in the Gambia. The couple visited the country on their honeymoon and were able to visit the Village in person.

Ian, 50, and Sharon, 49, first met in June 2010. Born in Tanzania and having lived in six other countries in Africa, Ian has a long-standing interest in issues affecting developing nations. Sharon first visited the SOS Children’s Village in Bakoteh on a trip in 2002, and met the children living there. She says that she found the Village to be a supportive and secure environment, which enabled children to develop through to adulthood within their own culture.

The couple were keen to support our work on their wedding day and Ian says that requesting donations towards helping children who have found a new home with SOS Children seemed like the natural thing to do: “We have merged our two homes into one and have no need for additional household goods. We want to do something that will make a difference for others who are in much greater need than us.”

They decided to use the donated money to purchase children’s clothes for children growing up in the Bakoteh Village. The couple also received support from a local childrenswear shop, Giggles, who generously contributed to the Village.

Ian and Sharon were keen to deliver the gifts in person, and were able to include a visit to SOS Children’s Village in Bakoteh during their two-week honeymoon in The Gambia. They were shown around the Village by Haddy Touray, the Village Director. They met other staff working there and some of the 120 children who are growing up in the Village. Ian says: “It was much bigger and better than I expected, and lived up to Sharon’s expectations having previously visited the Village in 2002.”

The couple handed out the clothing gifts to the children, who were very excited by the arrival of visitors and their new attire. Haddy says: ”I wish to thank Ian and Sharon immensely for devoting what is so special to them (their wedding gifts) to our children.”

They both feel positive about the decision they made to ask for donations for SOS Children rather than gifts for their wedding day. Ian says that the visit to the SOS Children’s Village reinforced their support for our charity and says: “We had the impression of a safe caring, nurturing environment which was supported by and at the heart of the community. The Village provided care, education, and vocational training leading to real employment opportunities, and hope for all those involved.”

Find out more about how you can contribute towards lasting change by requesting donations for your celebration.