The SOS Children's Village in Douala is home to 120 children - Photo: C. Ngo Biyack
The ceremony was presided over by the representative of the Governor of the littoral region, Ms Rachel Sen Kong, head of administrative and legal division in the governor's office. Also present were administrative, governmental, religious and traditional authorities from the littoral and the South West region, representatives of diplomatic corps and international organisations as well as people from the surrounding communities and several representatives of SOS Children's Villages International and SOS Children's Villages France, the main financier of the project.
Ms Rachel Sen Kong (left) and Gilles Paillard cut the ribbon - Photo: C. Ngo Biyack
Most of the people attending the ceremony felt personally concerned by the event and were proud of it. Gilles Paillard, managing director of SOS Children's Villages France, speaking on behalf of 40,000 donors, talked about his satisfaction to be in the village witnessing all the children having fun and being loved and protected. Another actor feeling proud was the Accor Foundation. General delegate Marie Caroline Bizet said that the foundation which financed the school canteen feels particularly honored to help improve the social welfare. Finally and not the least, the whole SOS family was proud to mark an important stage in its fight for the improvement of the living conditions of vulnerable children. Also people from the surrounding communities came massively to support the project and to express their commitment in a fight which needs everyone's responsibility.
Children showed great performances at the opening ceremony - Photo: C. Ngo Biyack
The inauguration ceremony turned into a real party during which children from the SOS Children's Village sang, danced and presented sketches on children's rights and the responsibility of the parents. The local authorities, apparently satisfied at the end of the ceremony, told their happiness to shelter the village, while praising the spirit of the organisation, not without having thanked SOS Children's Villages France which allowed the project to become a reality. The Douala village is in line with the social welfare policy on vulnerable people and due to that has the full support of the local authorities.
SOS Children's Village Douala was built on a land of seven hectares donated by the Cameroonian government. The village consists of twelve family houses in addition to a kindergarten, an SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary School and a socio-medical centre. The family strengthening programme assists about fifty vulnerable children within their biological families. SOS Children's Village Douala received its very first children on 14 July 2007. The twelve family houses can each accommodate up to seven children. The youngest child is one year old and the oldest is thirteen years. SOS Children's Village Douala is the second in Cameroon after the Mbalamyo village which opened in 1998. A third village is scheduled in Limbe (in the South West region). Construction works will start in 2010.
Two days of radio broadcast
An SOS mother live on air - Photo: C. Ngo Biyack
The inauguration of the SOS Children's Village Douala was the ending to a communication campaign which allowed SOS Children's Villages Cameroon a great entrance through radio, television and newspapers. A team of the CRTV, (the National Cameroon Radio and Television) stayed at the SOS Children's Village Douala from 9 to 10 November for broadcasting the daily morning magazine "CRTV m'accompagne", allowing the millions of listeners in Cameroon and abroad to know who we are, what we do and our values. The national director, the directors of the SOS Children's Villages Douala and Mbalmayo, the SOS mothers and the children - all enthusiastically joined the live broadcast. They spoke among others about the SOS child-care model, the admission process of children to a village, the functioning of a village, children's rights and advocacy. The SOS mothers seized the opportunity to make their profession known and portrayed the diary of an SOS mother in a family, whereas the children were proud to say how happy they are to live in the village.