|It's time now for me to live my own life|
| Photo: Ms. C. Mathisse|
An evening in an SOS Children's Village family. There are nine children and the SOS mother sitting at the dinner table. There is an important topic of discussion on today. Marie-Claire, the eldest child, is going to leave the family. She has to repeat a year at school and does not wish to continue school after finishing her A-levels. She wants to become a tailor. The move into an SOS Girls' Community is an important step for a girl on her way to becoming independent - to becoming an adult.
Marie-Claire will, of course, continue to be a member of the family, and she will visit her family regularly. The SOS Girls' Community is also in the vicinity of the SOS Children's Village. It is not a necessity for young people to move into a Youth Community. They can stay with their SOS family until they have finished their professional education and are able to live their own life. Both the youth and their SOS mother discuss together to make the decision as to whether or not an adolescent will move into a Youth Community or stay with the family.
"I am already looking forward to my new life in the Youth Community", says Marie-Claire, "and I'm going to visit my family very often. But it's time now for me to live my own life. There are many young people in the Youth Community, who are all training for a job. I can learn from their example."
Later on, Marie-Claire would like to move on to "semi-independent housing".
This is one of the many types of living which is offered to young people. Semi-independent housing means nothing else but having a one's own small apartment and being visited by one of the youth helpers on a regular basis, who will check whether everything is going alright, whether there are problems, and to see how the young people cope "on their own".
"I am pleased that I am capable of getting some maintenance from the SOS Children's Village until I earn enough money to pay for my flat and all I need on my own", Marie-Claire tells us, "because it is very difficult to find a job in Cameroon. Another thing that is important for me is that I can always contact one of my helpers in the Youth Community whenever I have a problem at work or questions concerning my flat or anything else. It is just like in a family. They help you when things are not the way they should be."
Each SOS Children's Village tries to find an individual approach to meet every adolescent's needs. There are different ways in which a young person can gradually move towards independence after leaving the Youth Community. For a limited period of time, the SOS Children's Villages even assist them financially, helping them take their first steps towards a life of independence.