Five years ago, in a slum of Grand Dakar, Senegal, SOS Children began supporting the social, educational and health needs of families living in the area, which suffers from high crime rates. Since then, 238 children from 39 families have been helped to create better futures for themselves. One individual who took part in the programme said, "Today, we are proud of ourselves, and many of us have found dignity. We can now stand on our own feet".
The family strengthening programme in Dakar has been helping disadvantaged families who are at risk of separation. Various initiatives have increased families' ability to protect and care for their children. According to the programme coordinator, "families who once had school going age children in the streets are delighted to see their children going and coming from school, and receiving distinctions at times".
With four daughters and a son, Absa struggled to take care of her five children alone. Living together in a small room, the family's home was cramped.
Due to a lack of income, and no support available, some of Absa's children had to leave school as she could not afford the school costs. Absa's situation caught the attention of the family support programme when it was introduced in Taïba, Dakar.
One of the first actions taken was to ensure each of her children went to school. Her children work hard and benefit from educational support, and now consistently rank amongst the best in their class. This year, three of her children achieved excellent exam results, and were on the honour roll.
Absa has started a small-scale poultry farming business and it's doing well. With help from the programme coordinator, she was able to negotiate a partnership with a shop that sells on all of her chickens. With this new source of income, Absa is able to save and says she can now support her family. The commitment and determination of Absa and all her children mean that their lives have now vastly improved.
"We can now stand on our own feet"
This year, the main focus of the programme was to support families to establish or develop income-generating activities, and thereby be able to meet the needs of their family. This kind of activity was done in previous years, but was intensified the past year so that families could achieve financial self-reliance, allowing SOS Children to withdraw its activities from this particular area.
The whole community in Dakar has felt the positive impact of the family support programme. One local explained, "If SOS Children's Villages was not here, our children would have become street children, with all the risks that this may cause. We will never be thankful enough to the generous donors who have contributed to SOS Children's Villages and helped improving our living conditions".