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Benin
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Rebuilding family life with support from SOS Children

Aimee outside of her home
Aimee outside of her home

After the death of her husband, Aimee, a mother of three from Dassa-Zoumé in Southern Benin, struggled to provide for her children and was building up unmanageable debts. With the support of the SOS Family Strengthening Programme she has been able to turn her life around. Now graduated from the programme, Aimee runs her own business selling food and textiles and is building a better future for her children.

Aimee and her husband had always struggled to make ends meet and earn enough to provide for their three young children. When her husband died suddenly in 2006, Aimee was left to care for the children alone. Her family-in-law claimed rights to the family home, and Aimee was forced to take her children to Dasse, where she had a small flat. In the middle of a city, the rent on the flat was very high and Aimee struggled to pay bills and afford food. The stress of making ends meet affected the children and their school results quickly took a turn for the worse.

When social workers from the SOS Family Strengthening Programme learnt of Aimee’s situation, they stepped in to help the family through difficult times.

As part of the Programme, Aimee and her family received regular food packages, free medical care, and school fees for the children. In order to help the children catch up with their education, SOS social workers organised for them to attend extra holiday classes. As a result, the children were able to improve their school performance and all passed their exams.

A key aim of the Family Strengthening Programme is sustainability. To ensure Aimee could provide for her family in the long-term, social workers helped her to find more affordable housing. She was also given support to set up her own small business. Aimee received a loan of 300 Euros which enabled her to start selling food and build up an income. The family's living conditions gradually began to improve. Aimee was able to repay the loan, and as a result, was lent the same amount again to enable her to build up her business further.

To prepare Aimee for graduation from the Programme, she attended a series of training sessions. Workshops included parenting classes on how to ensure the care of her children as they grow up. She also attended training on preventative health. Aimee received several follow-up visits at her home to ensure she was coping well with the transition

One of the SOS social workers who worked with Aimee says that she has says that she has adapted well to the transition: “She was already making considerable personal efforts to become independent from the programme. For example, when her situation began to improve, she hired a tutor for her children, even before the programme's initiative of organising sessions for the children.”

Aimee is very appreciative of the support she received at one of the most difficult times in her life. She says: “The Family Strengthening Programme has changed so many things in my life. I can never forget its particularly significant contribution in improving the living standards of my kids. I must admit that it brought hope to my life and contributed to the blooming of my children.”

The SOS Family Strengthening Programme in Dassa-Zoumé provides support for over 300 families to stay together through difficult times, ensuring that children can grow up safely with their parents. Find out more about our work in Benin.