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Benin
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Celebrating Christmas with family

Rachelle with her mother and sister
Rachelle with her mother and sister

Rachelle, 10, lives with her family in Abomey-Calavi in Benin. After her father died in 2008, her mother had been struggling to care for Rachelle and her six brothers and sisters alone. Now, with the support of the SOS Family Strengthening Programme, Rachelle and her family can look forward to celebrating a happier family Christmas.

SOS Children support approximately 350 children from needy families in Abomey-Calavi, in the south of Benin. The Family Strengthening Programme supports families such as Rachelle’s to stay together and ensures that children have access to everything they need to develop.

Last year, SOS Children invited all families on the Family Strengthening Programme in Abomey-Calavi to the SOS Primary School for Christmas lunch, and plan to do the same this year. Some families stayed to eat the meal at the centre, whilst others took the food away to have with their families at home. Rachelle came to the school on Christmas day and says “there were many children. I did not eat my meal on the spot. I took it home to eat with my brothers and sisters.”

Social workers from the Family Strengthening Programme visited the family on Christmas Eve and gave presents to Rachelle’s mother to give to her children on Christmas Day. These included clothes, shoes and toys.

Compared to the previous year, when her mother was unable to afford a Christmas meal or any presents for the children, the family were able to celebrate the occasion properly. Rachelle says “I found this year's Christmas more enthusiastic compared to last year. There was more of a good mood and I love that, because it takes us away from sadness.”

After a meal with her family, Rachelle went to play with her friends, before paying a visit to her neighbours’ houses for a drink with them. Knowing what it was like to miss out on Christmas, Rachelle was very grateful she is now able to celebrate the occasion with her family. She says “I feel fortunate for benefiting from the Family Strengthening Programme. I had a joyful and peaceful Christmas.”

Across the world, we are supporting thousands of vulnerable families to stay together, enabling children to grow up with their biological parents. Our Family Strengthening Programmes provide food support, medical assistance (including immunisations and assistance for people affected by HIV/Aids) and educational support on an ongoing basis.

Find out how you can support SOS Children at Christmas.