SOS Children's Village Bakoteh

Bakoteh is situated about 20 km from the country's capital, Banjul. SOS Chidren's Village Bakoteh consists of twelve family houses, where up to 120 children can find a new home.

There is also the village director's house, a house for the so-called SOS aunts (SOS mother trainees or family helpers who support the SOS mothers in their daily work and fill in for them when they are ill or on leave), co-worker accommodation, a round hut, an administration and service area with a small clinic, a sports field and playground, and a stall where products from the SOS-run schools and workshops are sold.

In 1982, an SOS Kindergarten was opened at Bakoteh. It consists of four classrooms, a room for infant day care, a classroom for Montessori teaching, and some additional rooms.

At about 15, youths from the SOS Children's Village move to one of the five SOS Youth Houses. For youngsters from the SOS Children's Villages, moving to an SOS Youth Facility is usually the first step towards an independent life. SOS mothers, educators and village directors prepare the youngsters very carefully for this important step in their lives.

Young people usually stay at the SOS Youth Facility until they have finished their education or training and found a job. The SOS Youth Facility at Bakoteh also includes a small counselling centre with an office, a common room and library, a kitchen and dining hall, an administration area, and a sports field.

The SOS Hermann Gmeiner Technical Senior School, which was opened in 1990, is a higher secondary school. It gives youngsters both from the SOS Children's Village and the local community the possibility to acquire higher secondary education in accordance with the national curriculum (including practical training).

The college has a capacity of 1,036 students. It comprises 28 classrooms including 5 laboratories and workshops for general and technical special subjects, library, open multi-purpose hall, canteen, head master's house, office and a computer class for evening courses for adults.

The main aim of SOS Vocational Training Centre Bakoteh is to pass on to young people knowledge and experience that will enable them to run their own businesses and lead independent lives. All sections of the training centre (carpentry/woodwork, car mechanics, metal work/tool making) receive orders from SOS co-workers and from private individuals.

Since the youngsters usually do their job extremely well and finish on time, the SOS Vocational Training Centre has acquired a very good reputation all over the country. After finishing the theoretical and practical training, young people who graduate from the training centre receive a diploma and a letter of recommendation.

The SOS Medical Centre (SOS Mother & Child Clinic) offers health care and medical services in the following areas: general health care, pre-natal health care, family planning, prevention of diseases, vaccinating children, first aid and emergency treatments.

Due to its modern equipment, its well-trained co-workers and the high standard of medical treatment, the SOS Medical Centre has become one of the most important medical institutions in the country. More than 10,000 people from the SOS Children's Village and the local community are treated at the SOS Medical Centre each year.

The SOS Hermann Gmeiner Lower and Upper Basic Schools started operation in 2000. The schools consist of twelve classrooms (six for the lower and six for the two-stream upper basic school), four classrooms for practical training, an administration area and a canteen. More than 850 pupils attend the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Lower and Upper Basic Schools.

The SOS Social Centre Bakoteh is a community initiative reflecting the need for a place which offers kindergarten education and training in skills for the children and youths of the community as well as functional literacy classes for women in particular.

The Centre is composed of two kindergarten classrooms, two training classrooms, a multipurpose hall, kitchen, dining room, cafeteria, office, two store rooms and five toilet facilities. It also responds to the need for an adequate and central meeting place, with its multipurpose hall and its cafeteria.

The SOS Family Strengthening Programme Bakoteh started with the aim of targeting 200 children. As of today, 700 children, care-givers and older siblings are supported by the programme, which covers several areas of the Western Division (Bakoteh and surrounding areas).

The programme is implemented by one coordinator, who is receiving support on the field from the communities (child welfare committee, women's groups, community based organisation, volunteers). The local partners (communities) are involved in identifying and selecting the beneficiaries, visiting families and monitoring their progress.

The programme offers support on various levels, upon the childrenfamily needs: Monthly nutrition supplement (rice, sugar, powder milk and oil) – for a maximum of 1 year unless exceptions, health support through the provision of mosquito nets for each beds of the household; hygiene support by giving second hand cloth; living conditions improvement by giving mattresses to families really in need (when children initially slept on the floor) and other small items upon cases; educational support by paying school fees, school materials and one uniform; psycho-social counselling is made by the programme coordinator for children and parents in need; capacity building of identified care givers and communities (support the establishment of child welfare committees, build up the capacities of community based organisations and women's groups on child care issues and programme monitoring); support to develop an Income Generation Activity or stable resources for the family (started in may 2006).