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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

Through thick and thin

Caring for a poorly child

The Gambia

Sutay Sanneh joined the Children’s Village in Basse as an auntie four years ago. (An SOS auntie is a family assistant, who helps SOS mothers meet the busy demands of raising a large family.) Like many aunties, Sutay later became an SOS mother herself.

Sutay from Basse Village in the GambiaThe main difficulty she faced was the health of one of her children. Haddy was just 12 months old when Sutay became her mother. The little girl was very sickly and diagnosed as suffering from a heart problem. Though Sutay was shocked to discover this, she says matter-of-factly “these are some of the challenges one faces as a mother and caregiver”.

Sutay took Haddy to a number of medical appointments, including one with a specialist in Senegal and another with the doctors of Mercy Ships. Thankfully, Haddy’s condition was found to be improving. “I was the happiest on this day,” says Sutay.

With the right medication, Haddy is now fully recovered. Satay is proud to report that her daughter is doing well at the SOS Nursery in Basse and enjoys all the games and sports. Like most children, as soon as Haddy gets home, she’s eager to tell her mother all about her day.

In fact, it’s only at bedtime that this happy, lively little girl finally quietens down and says “good night mummy, sound sleep”. Then, like mothers all over the world, Sutay can relax because her daughter is safe and well and tucked up in bed.

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Dealing with disability

Dominican Republic

Vivacious and intelligent, bossy but kind – by anyone’s standards, five-year-old Ana is a feisty character. She is also visually impaired, blinded after suffering mistreatment at the hands of her mother and stepfather.

Guilhermina and Ana share a cuddle

Caring for a partially sighted child is an entirely new experience for Guilhermina, Ana’s SOS mother. Guilhermina therefore attended specialist training at a school for people with sight problems. She also learned how to adapt her home and lifestyle to Ana’s needs, how to prepare her other children for Ana’s arrival, and how to help her new daughter grow up to be independent.

Despite all her training, meeting Ana turned out to be a learning curve. Instead of the needy, challenged little girl Guilhermina was expecting to join her family, she quickly recognised that Ana was a fast adapter who relished her independence. Ana even gets impatient with her sister, who has a habit of snuggling up with her at night. “I don’t like having her sleeping with me. It is my little bed... She sometimes calls me to sleep with her, and I say no, no, no!”

“For me, [Ana] is a normal kid,” says Guilhermina. “She has a disability, but I treat her the same way I treat the others. And I treat her like that because she won’t always be able to count on someone to assist her.”

Ana may be independent, but she has bags of affection for her SOS mother. Cuddling up to Guilhermina, Ana feels her mother’s face for a smile. When she finds it, she bursts into her unique infectious laugh and drags Guilhermina outside to the swings.

Guilhermina believes her chief responsibility is to nurture this independent spirit. If there is one thing she hopes to achieve for Ana, it is to “prepare her to face the world.”

Find out more about our work in the Dominican Republic...