Today we are spotlighting one of our Travel with Purpose partners, Orphelinat Sainte Genevieve De Katiola (Katiola Orphanage). This orphanage was founded in September 2011 by Father Germaine Coulibaly Kalahari with one goal in mind: help every child from his tribe in danger of infanticide. Sekou was able to meet Father Germaine on an advance trip to Côte d’Ivoire (CI) last month and got to learn more on how their organization is run. We are so thrilled to have met Father Germaine and the St. Genevieve orphans because from the get-go we wanted to find an organization with which we can establish a long-term relationship.
Father Germaine explains that before founding the orphanage he conducted a survey in the surrounding villages and found that twin children, children with disabilities, and children whose mothers died in childbirth were killed because these particular tribes still practice traditional customs of infanticide and abandonment. Father Germain and Habiba Koné, a social worker for the orphanage, have set up a vigilance committee in different neighborhoods who report cases of child endangerment. Since founding the orphanage in 2011, they have taken in about 40 children. Approximately 20 of the children live on-site in a single-family style home consisting of one boys’ dorm, one girls’ dorm, and Father Germaine’s quarters. In addition, they also have a full time cook and housekeeper. The other 20 children are hosted by families in the surrounding community.
The children at St. Genevieve receive excellent care, including housing, medical care, education and social services. In addition to providing ongoing care for the children, St. Genevieve staff also conduct community outreach and education related to the ongoing practices of infanticide. The village is very supportive of their work and recently donated over an acre of land to St. Genevieve for a larger facility where all the children can live together.
Funding and needs:
The orphanage relies entirely on donations. It is affiliated with the local Catholic archdiocese and Father Germaine is very active in seeking ongoing funding and support. In fact, this August he is leaving for three months to visit Strasbourg, France where he once held a priesthood to seek funding for the construction of their new facility. To supplement donations, St. Genevieve currently farms the land and harvests millet and other grains for sale. They also produce and sell honey, shea butter, and peanut paste.
On this year’s Travel with Purpose trip we are coordinating with our participants on the best strategy for supporting the orphanage. In addition to seeking funding for construction and for barbed-wire fencing to protect their farm, Father Germaine says they are also in need of medical supplies. Our travelers may check two 50-pound bags on flights to CI, and we plan to use one of those bags from each traveler to bring donated items. Stay tuned for updates on how you can help support the orphanage.
We are looking forward to our pilot trip and the many more that are to follow!
Above: A slideshow of some snapshots that Sekou got when he was onsite visiting the orphanage
St. Genevieve also did an interview with RTI, a publicly owned radio and television authority of Côte d'Ivoire. Click here if you’re interested in watching.