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Djibouti: New Village offers fresh start for children

New SOS mothers celebrate the opening of SOS Children's Village Tadjourah
New SOS mothers celebrate the opening of SOS Children's Village Tadjourah

We’re excited to announce that we are taking child sponsorships for our Children’s Village in Tadjourah, Djibouti. The Village, which opened in 2014, has the capacity to look after 100 children. 37 vulnerable children already call it home. Tadjourah, the oldest town in Djibouti, is also located in one of the poorest regions of the country. 11 percent of children there are growing up without the care of their parents.

Rara's story: A difficult start in life

One of those children was seven-year-old Rara. No-one is exactly sure when Rara was born. Her mother was a widow suffering from serious mental illness and paralysis on her left side. From a very young age, Rara took care of her mum - an incredibly hard task for a little girl who needed looking after herself. Rara was starved of affection, love and the opportunity to be a child. By the age of six, Rara had never been to school, she couldn’t read or write and sometimes struggled to speak.

The fortunes of this little girl began to change in early 2014 however, when SOS Children’s Villages started to identify children they thought would benefit from being given a loving home at the Children’s Village in Tadjourah.

"I first met Rara in January 2014,” remembers Ali Aboubker, director of SOS Children’s Village Tadjourah. “She was very thin and afraid of people. I tried to speak to her but I couldn’t get a single word out of her. She kept looking around as if she’d lost something and would just stare at people.”

“She didn't talk much – she wasn’t able to express herself very well,” says Choun, her SOS mother. “When she did talk she had a stammer. She was clearly traumatised.” SOS Children knew that they needed to help this girl who was growing up in an unstable home with a mother too sick to care and provide for her. So in September 2014, Rara started a new life at SOS Children’s Village Tadjourah.

Rara, a little girl from SOS Children's Villages Tadjourah, Djibouti holds her SOS brother
Rara loves looking after her SOS brother

A new home with new challenges

This troubled little girl struggled to adapt to life in the Village. “To my surprise, she completely refused to help in the house. Whenever I told her to do something she didn’t like, she would roll on the ground and make horrific noises, but would never cry,” says Choun.

Having never interacted with other children, Rara separated herself from her SOS brothers and sisters or pulled their hair and pushed them off the swings. At school, her class teacher described her as absent minded and without focus. She would often stand up and walk around the classroom or even just walk out of class.

At SOS however, we are used to dealing with the problems that children like Rara often arrive with. As with any of our Villages, the environment at SOS Children’s Village Tadjourah is nurturing and conducive to helping children who come from traumatic backgrounds overcome their difficulties.

Settling in

Three months after Rara came to live at the Village she began to develop a sense of belonging and she started trusting her SOS family. She stopped rolling on the ground and started making friends with the other children and helping her SOS mother around the house.
“Rara is a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning,” Choun says proudly. “She is also protective and caring – she carries her baby brother round with such tenderness. She is much better able to express herself too and we have proper conversations.”

School is still a challenge, but for a little girl who didn’t know school existed until she was six, this comes as no surprise. But she is curious and loves touching everything she hasn't seen before and loves learning the names of new things she discovers everyday!

“Rara needed a family that accepts her as she is, shows her love and affection. Now she has that, she will be able to overcome whatever challenges she faces,” says Ali.

By sponsoring a child in Djibouti today, you can help turn the life of a vulnerable child, like Rara, around. Find out how here.

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