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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

Meet the first SOS mother in The Gambia

Portrait of the very first Gambian SOS mother with one of her SOS daughters
Portrait of the very first Gambian SOS mother with one of her SOS daughters

Over 30 years ago, Ya Pulloh heard a radio advertisement urging women to apply to the SOS Children’s Village in The Gambia. After a successful application, Ya Pulloh became the first SOS mother in The Gambia. During her time with SOS Children’s Villages, she raised 14 orphaned and abandoned children as her own.

The first SOS Children’s Village in The Gambia opened in Bakoteh in 1983. Ya Pulloh was working as a petty trader before joining the world's largest family: SOS Children’s Villages.

“When I started working as an SOS mother, I realised that it was far more than a job to me. I became so passionate and involved that I even helped in the recruitment of other SOS mothers,” explained Ya Pulloh.

Like SOS mothers today, Ya Pulloh received extensive training in child development, so every child reaches their full potential. When we spoke to Ya Pulloh, she had since retired from the Bakoteh Village, but remembered every detail of her experience as an SOS mother.

"I started work on a Monday and although no children were admitted into the Village yet, I felt proud to be an SOS mother,” Ya Pulloh recalled. "I have positive memories of our family picnics in Kartong or Sanyang (two fishing villages on the Atlantic Ocean), where we would swim, dance and enjoy ourselves."

She explained that she also remembered every trait of every child she cared for, including Oli who has a very special place in her heart. Oli came to the Village when he was just one day old. Ya Pulloh stayed in touch with Momodou and the other children she raised.

“I never had any biological children but I don't regret it because my SOS children gave me all the love a mother needs and they now take care of me,” said Ya Pulloh. “Lots of people thank me for the services rendered to SOS Children's Villages, but my children offer me the best recognition in their individual ways and abilities.”  

Ya Pulloh passed away on 26th May 2016, at the age of 97. She was loved by the entire Village during her days as an SOS mother and long after she retired. 

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