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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

Yassim gets a second chance in life

Yassim and her SOS mother Sutay
Yassim and her SOS mother Sutay

Helen Elmerstig, SOS Children UK’s Education Coordinator, recently visited SOS Children’s Village Basse in The Gambia. In this piece, she tells the story of Yassim, a little girl who overcame her difficult start in life with the dedication and support of her SOS mother Sutay.

“I was an orphan myself at an early age, so it is good to be able to give these children the love and care I didn’t have” says SOS mother Sutay from SOS Children’s Village in Basse. She has personal reasons for being an SOS mother, and her strong commitment to the children she cares for in house number five has certainly been tested.

One of the girls in her care, Yassim, would not have been alive today if it was not for mother Sutay.

Yassim was the first born to her biological mother. Her mother gave birth at home with no skilled medical help, just like two out of three women in the rural areas of The Gambia do. She did not survive the labour, and neither did Yassim’s twin brother. After losing her mother, Yassim’s difficult start in life continued: she was rejected by the rest of the family, and was very weak with severe heart problems.

When Yassim was welcomed to the SOS Children’s Village in Basse, Sutay was warned she might not live. But Sutay and the Village Director were determined to do everything they could to save Yassim. First, Sutay and Yassim travelled to the capital city of Banjul, where they stayed for two months so that Yassim could receive treatment at the city’s hospital. Doctors there did everything they could, but even though Yassim got a bit stronger, they could not promise lasting change. As a last resort, they suggested Sutay could try taking Yassim to the hospital in Dakar, in neighbouring Senegal, where doctors have more specific expertise. Without hesitation, Sutay asked the Village Director for the funds to travel to Dakar with Yassim. After ten days and complicated heart surgery in the Senegalese capital, doctors declared Yassim’s treatment a success. Sutay could return home to the SOS Children’s Village Basse with a tired but recovering little girl.

French doctors recently visited Basse and Sutay took Yassim to see them for a routine check up. The doctors told Sutay she needn’t have come: Yassim is as well and healthy as any other seven year old girl. There is no trace of her previous heart condition, other than a very special bond with her SOS Mother. 

SOS Children in Basse

SOS Children’s work in Basse brings hope to a deprived area. For children who have nothing and no one, our SOS Children’s Village provides a safe home where they can grow up with the love of an SOS mother. You can give more children like Yassim a chance in life by sponsoring SOS Children's Village Basse.

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