As preparations for our Travel With Purpose service project, our Côte d’Ivoire based coordinator, Ladji Koné, has been learning about and visiting organizations which are working every day to improve the lives of Ivoirians.
This week, Ladji would like to introduce you to SOS Children's Villages - the largest nonprofit in the world dedicated to children who have either lost their parents, or cannot grow up with their biological families.
Located not far from Abidjan, the SOS Children’s Village of Abobo was created in 1971 (the international organization originated in Austria in 1949 to serve orphans of World War II). In total, there are three such villages in Côte d’Ivoire, including Abobo, Aboisso, and Yamoussoukro.
Funded through donations, SOS Villages provide children suffering from tragedies a safe, healthy home offering long-term emotional stability and educational opportunities, including a family framework which includes trained “mothers.” At 18, graduates transition to family homes in the surrounding village, continuing their education or apprenticeships. Alumni have become doctors, started their own businesses, are officers in the military, among other jobs.
The Abobo Village orphanage Ladji visited includes a health center which offers vaccinations, a lab, and soon will have a maternity ward, all open to the community; boys’ and girls’ homes which serve 200 children in family-like settings (older children, 14-18+ reside in youth homes); recreation facilities for football (soccer), basketball and handball; and primary and secondary schools complete with computer room, canteen, and schoolyard. In the village surrounding the compound, the center supports over 500 children through a family strengthen program, designed to help prevent child abandonment.
In a September 2016 Africa 360 media article, the Orphanage Director explained the tragedy of these children, “In this region, for example, it is customary for the tenth child to be considered a bearer of misfortune and to be ‘sacrificed.’ In Aboisso we have (saved) some of these children from death.”
“The center faces difficulty training students in the latest technology,” explained Ladji of his visit to the computer room. Although there is some equipment, tablets are in short supply and internet service can be temperamental.
For more information, to make a donation or sponsor a child’s tuition:
Recognitions include the Better Business Bureau (Accredited Charity), Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2002, among others.
In addition to SOS Children’s Village of Abobo, Ladji has met with Côte d’Ivoire’s National Tourism Office’s Director of External Relationships, Yao N’Guessan Grégroire to further explore partnerships for our Travel With Purpose program.