Gambia: Inauguration of Multipurpose Centre At SOS Children's Village, Bakoteh

16th January 2013, the SOS Children's Village, Bakoteh witnessed the inauguration of its first ever multipurpose centre.The construction and part furnishing of the building was funded by the Japanese Embassy in Dakar through their Official Development Assistance, ODA.The building comprises of a computer/library room, mini hall, Montessori room, trainingroom, two stores and two toilets.

The 1st Secretary Embassy of Japan, Ms Akiko Takano, invited guest, representatives from the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare and Education, Religious Leaders, Community elders and staff from all SOS affiliated projects graced the occasion.The Village Director, Mrs Haddy Njie Touray in her welcome remarks expressed her happiness in seeing the construction of this Multipurpose Centre.

This she said is a project that she created in her thoughts, and then talked about it, and finally today, it has become a reality. The Multipurpose Centre project plan was on paper as a daily wish and she hoped that it will be funded and come to reality one day. Sheexpresssincere thanks and gratitude to the Japanese Embassy in Dakar for being the front runner and sponsoring the construction and part furnishing of the project at a tone of €49,067 (Forty Nine Thousand, Sixty Seven Euros). The grant contract was signed on the 17th March 2011 and the project was completed in November 2011 and was officially handed over to the village management in March 2012 and since that datethe centre have been open to the communities of SOS, Bakoteh and Manjai.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation goes to our friend and Corporate Partner, Standard Chartered Bank for the donation of 15 tables and chairs, 2 desktop flat screencomputers, 3 wooden cupboards and an air conditioner for the furnishing of the library and to all our friendswho have donated books, games, learning and teaching materials to the Centre.

The center presently accomodates 489 beneficiaries' these include children in the village, youths from SOS facilities,SOS Kindergarten, SOS Mothers/Aunties, adults from our Family Strengthening Programme, youths and children from the community.

The center offers the following :

•Montessori/TV room for the SOS Kindergarten for 247 children of which 225 are from the community

•The library is being used by SOS children and youths and 20 students from the community.

•An artist volunteer of Bakoteh village comes in daily to train some of our youths and children in some handy craft work.

•Literacy classes are in progress twice a week for our mothers and aunties in the village and also our caregivers from the Family Strengthening Programme beneficiaries in Bakoteh Manjai and Dippakunda communities.

•In-service workshops and training for staff, mothers, aunties and children.

The centre is greatly and positively supporting the development of our children and youths, our Mothers and Aunties, children, youths and adult from our community, and our own staff.It is planned that as time goes on, more activities will be added one of which is for the village to have its own vegetable garden and a bakery which construction is nearing completion, and will provide bread for the village and why not bread from the village can also be sold to SOS staff and the community. The local oven or bakery was donated by Mr. Edi Sowe of ES Construction Company and we would like to thank him and GECTRA for their invaluable support to the village.

Ms Akiko Takano, the first secretary Embassy of Japan in The Gambia also spoke at length about the construction of the centre to its finishing. She expressed their continued support to SOS Children's Villages, The Gambia.Takano expressed hope that the centre will play a significant role in making a difference in the admirable work, which this organisation already carries out. She told the children that they are the future leaders of the country and expressed hope that this centre will help them expand their horizons.

For his part, Mr. Fallu Sowe, Assistant Director, Department of Social Welfare, deputising for theMinister of Health and Social Welfare, commended the Japanese embassy for the gesture. He dilated on the work of SOS since inception in 1982 to date. He thanked the Japanese embassy for such a donation especially to vulnerable children of The Gambia. He said that the children are the future leaders of the country and as a result it is important to help them acquire skills that will enhance their future development.

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Kanny Sowe, an SOS Child and a pupil of SOS Hermann Gmeiner Lower Basic School, thanked the Japanese Embassy for providing such a centre, whilst assuring them that they would make good use of the centre. She expressed hope that the good relationship between the Japanese embassy and SOS continues to grow.

Ndey Badjie, an SOS Aunty and Rohey Jarju an SOS Mother where more than grateful to SOS for giving them the opportunity to learn English through the Adult Literacy class as before they could not read and write English but now they can confidently contribute to the educational development of their children.

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