Sponsor a child in Benin
With SOS Children, you can help orphaned and abandoned children in Benin by sponsoring a child:
A stable democracy though many remain poor
72% of Benin’s population live in poverty and nearly 20% are undernourished. In rural areas, only 4% of people have access to sanitation facilities. Drinking water is also scarce, with 31% forced to use water from unimproved sources.
In 2010, Benin suffered some of its worst-ever flooding, causing thousands of people to abandon their homes and tremendous damage to buildings and crops. This has worsened the already critical food situation.
Children face many perils
- Nearly 50% of the country’s population is less than 18 years old. Of every 1,000 live births, 90 children never reach the age of five.
- The number of children who grow up without parental care amounts to a shocking 310,000. Often, children have to work in order to financially support their families and so cannot go to school.
- Mother-to-child transmission of HIV remains a persistent problem, as 37,000 women in Benin are HIV-positive.
Our Work in Benin
The acute need for care facilities for orphaned and abandoned children led to the charity's construction of its first community in 1987 at Abomey-Calavi, about 17 km from the country's largest city, Cotonou. Six family houses were built, together with a nursery school and a primary school. In 1990, we added five more family houses. The village is now home to over 100 children.
Both the nursery school and the primary school provide children from the neighbourhood, as well as the village, with a sound education. Because of the lack of schools in Benin, a secondary school was built in 2002, which has capacity for over 400 pupils and specialist facilities for teaching arts and music.
Benin's second SOS Children's community came about as the result of a particular problem with children being abandoned because of traditional beliefs. SOS Children's Village Natitingou opened in 1999. Natitingou is the capital of the province Atacorta in the north-west of Benin. The village is on a hill on the edge of the town on the main road to Djougou, in a sparsely populated, predominantly poor area. It has ten family houses which are home to 100 children. There is a nursery for 50 children and also a primary school, both of which take in children from the local community as well as the SOS families.
A third village in the city of Dassa-Zoumé, about 125 miles from Cotonou in the centre of the country opened in 2006. There are twelve family houses for 120 children, a nursery school for 50 children in two classes and a primary school for 210 children in six classes. A social centre supports 12,000 people in the local community and helps to prevent child abandonment. The main focus of the social centre is a community AIDS awareness project, as AIDS infection rates in Dassa-Zoumé are among the highest in the country.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Benin: At the heart of a new SOS family
SOS Children's Village Natitingou now comprises twelve family houses; extension works on the two new buildings were completed in November 2008. The families moved into their new houses a few months later, and now live with other members of the village and the surrounding community in harmony.
Monique's family moved into their new family house in July 2009. SOS mother Monique went there a little earlier to have time to become familiar with the new environment. The children arrived a few days later. The new family house has been given the name 'Serenity.' This name was chosen in joint agreement by the SOS mother and the children from a list of names proposed by the national child education co-ordinator. This practice is common at SOS Children's Village Natitingou and many other villages in the region. Each house has a name that refers either to love, peace, prosperity, health, or hope. The objective is to establish a mindset at the family house that helps the children overcome wounds of the past and to appropriate their new environment so that they can have a happy childhood.
The family called 'Serenity' has seven children. The oldest of the children is nine years old and the youngest will turn two in a few weeks. The children are mostly orphans. Some come from Natitingou, while others come from localities situated hundreds of kilometres away.
The children at this family house are joyful, healthy and 'very happy to live together' said a co-worker of SOS Children's Villages Benin. They get on well with the children of other family houses at the village. They visit their brothers and sisters from other family houses and vice-versa. They always have fun. They regularly play with their brothers and sisters. They love swings and slides. They also enjoy listening to music and watching cartoons on the television. With Monique, their SOS mother, they form a wonderful loving family, alive and balanced. 'Monique loves 'her” children and devotes herself entirely to them', said a co-worker.
Monique is the first to get up and the last to go to bed. Early in the morning she starts with making the children's beds, arranging the cupboards, washing clothes, shopping at the market, and preparing the meal for the day. The afternoon is usually devoted to ironing clothes and do-it-yourself chores. In the evening, when classes are in session, she assists children in reviewing their lessons. The workflow is generally more important during classes than during the holidays. Nevertheless, she does her daily work with love, devotion, and dedication. Monique had been recruited at SOS Children's Village Natitingou in September 2001 as an SOS aunt (SOS family helper). Her appointment to SOS mother is the culmination of eight years of effort, marked by her dedication and the interest shown in child welfare.
SOS Villages d'Enfants Bénin
Tel: +229 95 45 25 76
Fax: +229 21 360712