November 15 2002
Relief for the bereaved after the ferry disaster in Senegal
18/11/2002 - More than a thousand people died when a ferry capsized off the coast of Gambia at the end of September. Hundreds of families, mainly from the Senegalese coastal town of Ziguinchor, lost parents, children and relatives in the disaster. SOS Children's Villages Senegal is launching emergency relief measures to support families and orphans in need.
An entire continent was left in shock when more than one thousand people were killed in Africa's worst shipping disaster on 26 September. The ferry "the Joola" capsized en route from the harbour town of Ziguinchor to the Senegalese capital of Dakar due to overloading and bad weather. Most of the victims came from Ziguinchor (population: 150,000), where approximately 500 families have been directly affected by the disaster. Fathers, mothers, children were killed, some families were totally wiped out.
A high number of children have been left orphaned and are in urgent need of support. During the course of the next few weeks, SOS Children's Villages Senegal will launch an emergency relief programme to help children and families most in need. Plans are underway to take in up to one hundred orphans. In order to maintain the quality of care provided by the SOS mothers, the children will be accommodated at the four Senegalese SOS Children's Villages, one of which is located in Ziguinchor. One to two children will be taken in by each family, the youngest children will be given priority.
Alongside the provision of long-term care for orphans, temporary relief measures are planned for orphans and families who, having lost family members, are in urgent need. Food will be distributed to 500 families in Ziguinchor, medical supplies will be distributed through the small medical station in the SOS Children's Village. Children left orphaned will be provided with school material and - depending on capacity and need - will be able to attend schools and kindergartens run by SOS Children's Villages.
First contacts were made between the founder of SOS Children's Villages Hermann Gmeiner and political decision makers in Senegal in the mid 1970s, which soon led to the establishment of the association and the construction of the first SOS Children's Village in the capital Dakar. Four years after the opening in Dakar, the SOS Children's Village in Kaolack opened in 1983. With a third SOS Children's Village in Louga, approx. 200 km north east of Dakar, built at the end of the 80s, and an additional SOS Children's Village in Ziguinchor, SOS Children's Villages Senegal provides care for destitute and abandoned children in four locations. A youth facility, four kindergartens, two schools, a vocational training centre and a mother and child clinic with a delivery room in Kaolack offer additional services for hundreds of people.