- On World Humanitarian Day!
SOS Children’s Villages The Gambia would like to celebrate individuals and humanitarian workers like Bakary Sawaneh who support children, young people and staff especially during the Covid-19 period.
A tiny West African State with over one million inhabitants, The Gambia is known as the smiling coast of Africa. In 2019 after the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic, things quickly turned around disrupting the lives, operations and livelihoods of the average Gambians.
Bakary Sawaneh an SOS Youth Leader in Bakoteh has been a witness to this crisis. Bakary has worked as a Youth Leader for 8 years supporting children and young people at SOS Children’s Villages Bakoteh.
Since 2020, Bakary has been supporting and volunteering at the temporary isolation center set up by SOS Children’s Villages The Gambia providing psychosocial support to the SOS Mothers, Family Assistants, and Young People who contracted COVID-19.
On his motorbike, dressed in PPE gear, Bakary always visits the SOS Mothers, Family Assistants, and Young People who had contracted COVID-19 at the temporary isolation center in Bakoteh to make sure they are doing fine and keeping safe .
“In late 2020 when international borders were closed due to COVID-19 Pandemic, I had to escort a young person who needed medical attention to another country, and with the support of management, we had to devise a way out to make sure the young person is treated whilst adhering to health regulations”
However, he says, “The heavy downpour of rain, windstorm, and flooding has made his work a little bit challenging during those difficult times” and call on all to take action to reduce the impact of climate change.
As for Bakary, “ working for vulnerable children and young people is something I love doing and passion for me, every child is unique in his or her way, with the right support and orientation, we can bring out the best in them”.
- World Humanitarian Day 2021
Statement by Acting National Director SOS Children’s Villages The Gambia
Today is another important day as we come together to celebrate world Humanitarian Day. The day is set aside to celebrate colleagues who risked their lives daily supporting vulnerable people such as women and children in crises and in conflict zones around the world.
World Humanitarian Day is designated to honor the memory of the 19 August 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 22 people, including the chief humanitarian in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly formalized the day as World Humanitarian Day (WHD).
Each year, WHD focuses on a theme, bringing together partners from across the humanitarian system to advocate for the survival, well-being, and dignity of people affected by crises, and for the safety and security of aid workers.
This year, the world highlights the immediate human cost of the climate crisis by pressuring world leaders to take meaningful climate action for the world’s most vulnerable people.
As an International Non-governmental Social Development Organisation, we will use our voice to advocate for the plight of vulnerable people especially children and young people in risk zones around the world so that no child will be left behind and no child will grow up alone.
This year, in the first week of July, The Gambia experienced widespread windstorm disaster that affected over 16,849 people in more than 100 communities across all seven regions of the country. The impact of the disaster caused a total of 10 deaths, around 1531 people internally displaced and with over 100 people severely injured; mainly as a result of structural collapses triggered by falling trees and moving objects.
Among the affected are children and young people whose lives are disrupted and are exposed to risk of separation from their families and communities. The internally displaced people (IDP) are further exposed to increasing harsh weather conditions.
According to the Meteorological Department, the wind speed was at 85 km per hour and was the first of its kind to be recorded in the last five years. The characteristics of the windstorm are unusual and unprecedented thus reaffirming that climate change and variability are real and therefore something needs to be done.
As an organization tirelessly working on improving the lives of children, young people and their families, we would like to renew our commitment to strengthen our resilience to climate risk. We are driven by our vision – every child belongs to a family and grows with love, respect and security. We will therefore and at all times, endeavor to strengthen our resilience!
You will all agree with me that, 2020/21 are difficult years for all of our programs, especially for our children, young people and families; hence the emergence of the Covid pandemic.
The fluidity and high recurrence rate of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the vulnerabilities of communities to climate change risk and other forms of risks. Many countries including The Gambia have been affected socially and economically to the extent that certain sectors of their economies and social systems may not easily recover.
The recurrence of another Covid wave in the midst of a flood season has resulted to disruptions of programmes at SOS; hence the partial closure of some programmes, facilities and community initiatives. Family Strengthening Programmes focusing on Women Empowerment or Community Empowerment have also suffered setbacks in the recent windstorm disasters in Upper River Region. It is quite obvious that the impact and extent of climate change risk have no boundaries and if unchecked, there will be serious reversals in our development gains.
As floods, windstorm and other climate change hazards continue to cause havoc annually in our country, it is high time that The Gambia Government is reminded of its duty to intensity its fight against climate change by; accelerating and improving access to climate change fund opportunities; accelerate climate insurance policy change and increase its investment in climate resilience building.
Finally, I wish to reiterate our commitment to the Humanitarian Imperative and Principles and wish to assure you that SOS Children’s Villages The Gambia will continue to uphold these principles and commitments and more importantly strive to make our programmes and beneficiaries to be more climate resilient.
I thank you all and have a great day deliberation.
Acting National Director – Ebou Faye Njie.
- Acting National Director delivers statement on International Youth Day
The Acting National Director SOS Children’s Villages The Gambia Mr. Ebou Faye Njie on Thursday delivered a statement on behalf of the National Association in celebration of International Youth Day. The event was graced by The Gambia National Youth Council, Drug Law Enforcement Agency The Gambia ( DLEAG), Fantanka Organisation, young people and staff.
Children, Young People, Core Care co-workers, National Youth Council (NYC), Drug Law Enforcement Agency The Gambia ( DLEAG) , Fantanka, distinguished guests and Speakers, fellow colleagues of the National Office , all other protocols respectfully observed It gives me the greatest pleasure to deliver a statement on this important day as we converge here to celebrate International Youth Day 2021. Young people without parental care and those at risk of losing it are among the most vulnerable groups in our societies. They lack the support to successfully navigate in a disruptive and competitive world whilst maintaining social and professional inclusion and participation. External trends like high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, forced displacement and high individualism add additional pressure and challenges on them.
As SOS Children’s Villages and its partners maintain their stances to protect and serve young people without parental care and those at risk of losing it, it is our belief that strong relationships with caring adults can be game changers in these young people’s lives. By offering quality youth development services, we make sure they are not left behind and are supported to achieve self-fulfillment, ultimately contributing to the development of their families, communities and societies. Success, just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. As such, there are many forms a successful transition from childhood to independent life can take – it depends very much on context and culture and the individual personality of the young person.
As you know SOS Children’s Villages is guided by the spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and of course the Children’s Act 2005 of The Gambia. SOS Children’s Villages the Gambia advocates for the rights of children and believes that a child’s development is best achieved in a conducive environment.
Madam Chair, staff and Young People, as this year’s THEME is Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health, it is important to be cognizant of the growing world population. With the world’s population expected to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years, it has been recognized by numerous stakeholders that simply producing a larger volume of healthier food more sustainably will not ensure human and planetary wellbeing. Other crucial challenges must also be addressed, such as the interlinkages embodied by the 2030 Agenda including poverty reduction; social inclusion; health care; biodiversity conservation; and climate change mitigation. Through youth education, engagement, innovation, and entrepreneurial solutions, this year’s International Youth Day aims to provide a platform for young people to continue the momentum from the ECOSOC Youth Forum in the lead-up to the high-level Food Systems Summit. As part of the Decade of Action for delivery of the 2030 Agenda and under the leadership of the Secretary-General and Prime Minister of Italy a Pre-Summit took place in July and lay the groundwork for the high-level Food Systems Summit to take place in September alongside the UN General Assembly which aims to highlight the urgency of transforming food systems, particularly in the wake of a global pandemic. In this context, this year’s International Youth Day is center around the theme Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health.
I understand that this year’s celebration, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Major Group for Youth and Children have agreed to work together where a webinar will be organized and a survey will be conducted, in collaboration with partners to report on the outcomes of the event. To ensure no one is left behind in the discussions, civil society youth organizations will participate while ensuring regional representation, as well as the inclusion of Indigenous youth. The aim will be to highlight innovative entrepreneurial ideas by youth around the theme and to educate participants on work being done surrounding the transformation of food systems.
At SOS Children’s Villages Level, I was informed that there will be activities to celebrate this day such as: Session to engage young people to discuss the International Youth Day theme: Transforming Food System; Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health. and formation of the National youth Association, a whole day sporting activity, and a cultural night/dinner for all participants. This is great”.
I take this opportunity to thank the team and organizers for this event.
I wish you all a fruitful celebration and deliberations.
Happy International Youth Day
- SOS Children’s Village Bakoteh conducts workshop on Social Integration.
STRENGTHENING INTEGRATION OF SOS FAMILY MEMBERS INTO THE COMMUNITY.
Growing up as a member of a community is crucial for children and young people. It allows them to build safe and lasting relationships and ultimately enables them to develop into independent and contributing members of society. Social integration into the local society is a complex process.
It is in this regard , SOS Children’s Village Bakoteh embarked on a three days workshop to develop an Action Plan for the implementation of the SOS Children’s Villages Social Integration Initiative. The process was led by the CV Manager and the lead facilitator the National Advocacy and Communications Coordinator.
The purpose of the workshop was not intended as an assessment or evaluation activity, but as an opportunity to contribute to the improvement of SOS family care in Bakoteh. SOS parents, children, and young people can share their ideas and concerns openly in a participatory way with the local management team and develop a relevant local action plan for their location.
The session was attended by Children, Youths and SOS Mothers as key actors. Other support staff such at the Alternative Care Coordinator , Social Workers and Youth Care workers.
The facilitator used the Local Action Tool developed to guide National Associations to develop their action plans. The tool is a 3-day workshop methodology with the focus on how to improve social integration into the community for members of the SOS families in Bakoteh.
The workshop was based on a participatory approach, in which members of the local management team work together with children, young people and SOS parents from SOS family care on analyzing the local situation and identifying relevant actions to improve social integration.
Furthermore, other methods were also used to give participants a greater understanding of the topic such as a presentation on various topics related to SOS’s work, group sessions, and experience sharing.
At the end of the 3days workshop an action plan was developed and ready to be implemented.
- Press Release -SOS Children’s Villages elects new President and top leadership
The new leadership commits to implementing important changes to improve safeguarding and the quality of childcare to the highest standard, with transparency and accountability.
INNSBRUCK, Austria, 24 June 2021 – SOS Children’s Villages, the world’s largest non-governmental organization supporting children and young people without adequate parental care, present in more than 130 countries and territories, has elected Dr Dereje Wordofa as President and Ms Beáta Juvancz as Vice President, effective 24 June 2021.
Dr Wordofa’s early priorities will be to lead changes in the broader governance and culture of SOS Children’s Villages to strengthen programme quality and safeguarding in every corner of the organization.
Dr Wordofa has dedicated his 30-plus-year career to social development and humanitarian work, most recently as the United Nation’s Assistant Secretary General of the UN Population Fund. Before leaving for the UN, Dr Wordofa, 55, served as SOS Children’s Villages Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Africa and the Middle East.
Ms Juvancz, 54, has been Board Chair of SOS Children’s Villages Hungary since 2018. Ms Juvancz, a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley in Hungary, brings to SOS Children’s Villages extensive experience gained through 30 years in general management, strategic oversight and finance.
The General Assembly, the highest governing body of SOS Children’s Villages, elected the new President and Vice President today, as well as members to the International Senate, capping off a three-day virtual meeting.
“I am profoundly humbled and honoured by the trust placed in me to be the fourth President of this prominent federation, with more than 70 years of impact,” Dr Wordofa said. “I hope to bring a fresh perspective and new insights based on my experience advocating for the rights of children.
“I commit to addressing the failings from the past to strengthen safeguarding and programme quality to the highest standard, with transparency and accountability,” Dr Wordofa said. “As President, my job description in one line will be to ensure that every child and young person grows up with the bonds they need to become their strongest selves.”
For more than three decades, Dr Wordofa has worked in strategic leadership positions at civil society organizations. At the United Nations, he oversaw UNFPA’s progammes worldwide to promote sexual reproductive health and rights. In his capacity, he spoke on behalf of the UN Secretary General to member states and other partners advocating for action on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr Wordofa takes over the role as President from Siddhartha Kaul who announced on 7 May that he would not seek re-election. The General Assembly also voted for members of the International Senate, with 60% of those elected serving for the first time on the 22-member body.
As president, Dr Wordofa will assume overall leadership of the global federation. He leads the International Senate and ensures a common approach among the governance bodies. The President represents the federation externally and internally. He will work in close cooperation with the Executive Board headed by Chief Executive Officer Ingrid Johansen who joined the organization in January 2021.
About SOS Children’s Villages
SOS Children’s Villages, founded in 1949 by Hermann Gmeiner, is the world’s largest non-governmental organization focused on supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it.
Child neglect, abuse and abandonment are everywhere. Families are at risk of separation. Locally led, we work in more than 130 countries and territories to strengthen families who are under pressure so they can stay together. When this is not in a child or young person’s best interests, we provide quality care according to their unique needs.
Together with partners, donors, communities, children, young people and families, we enable children to grow up with the bonds they need to develop and become their strongest selves. We speak up for each child’s rights and advocate for change so all children can grow up in a supportive environment.