Supervised living

Within walking distance of the orphanage, we have rented two flats to support the transition from the orphanage to independent living.

Youth House

The ‘Youth House’ offers girls the opportunity to develop themselves into independent young women within a safe environment and they live under the guidance of ‘Mama’ Elizabeth, a staff member of the orphanage. Although all the children in the orphanage enjoy equal opportunities, such as a good education, traditional gender roles still predominate and play a key role in The Gambian society. Girls are expected to perform a major role in the family household and only the girls reside in this semi-supervised environment. They stay at the ‘Youth House’ during weekends and school holidays and are split into two groups. Here they get the opportunity to learn and experience how to go shopping at the market, how to cook healthy and delicious meals and how to organise a household.

Fatou House

‘Aunty’ Fatou, a staff member of the orphanage, lives on her own in a flat at the same compound, which has been serving as our ‘Youth House’.

Some young adults can also live here - under the watchful eye of ‘aunty’ Fatou, when they have reached adulthood, have no (foster) family, and are not yet ready to live completely independently. Ensuring a safe future for all our children is our highest goal!

Those who have the aptitude are given the opportunity to pursue further education. But as in Europe, young adults may at times make decisions that their parents or guardians do not agree with, such as dropping out of school or associating with friends who have a negative influence on them. We often find that young people experience pressure from their peer group and as a result make decisions that we do not always support. But these are their own choices. As they are now adults, we must respect and accept these choices, no matter how much we would like to protect them from such decisions.

In the future, no new children will be taken in at our orphanage. This is partly due to the health problems of our chairperson Sia Jongeneel, but also to the fact that members of the organisation are ageing and there is no succession plan in place. Additionally, the cost structure is completely different from what it was at the opening of the orphanage in 2009. The price of food, medical care and education has increased exponentially, meaning that taking in more children is no longer viable.

The orphanage will take on a different function in about six years’ time, probably as a training centre to provide quality practical education to local youth.

But thankfully, that time is still a long way off... the youngest children are only twelve years old and, of course, we would like to continue to care for and support them until adulthood.

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