A journey back to the society
Hello from the land of cocoa!
Abidjan, the capital city of Ivory Coast, is a developing city, and a big number of families migrate from countryside regions to this city. Children from such families, living under poor conditions, are very vulnerable to social exclusion, and a number of them are in a situation of lack of education and/or social conflict.
Fondation Amigo Côte d’Ivoire, funded by the European Union, created a home for such children, Centre Amigo Doumé. In this centre, these young people spend a period of two years, learning either carpentry, ironworks or farming, depending on their choice and interest.
Some of the children that come to this centre are brought by their parents, after realising that they have invested themselves in wrong manners. Others are brought by the police after being found guilty of crimes such as drug dealing. There is also a number of some who simply bring themselves, after realizing they might benefit from the centre.
Currently, the centre hosts 64 children (61 boys and 3 girls), and among them, 27 are permanently hosted there . “At the start, I didn’t like coming here. But as time went on, we learned more, and I was finally able to make my first work, with my hands. Since then, I felt very motivated that I kept on coming. I like what we learn here, and every day I wake up early in the morning and come here eager to learn and work more,” Jean Jacques, one of the children here says.
Apart from learning these trades, children have extracurricular activities such as cultural classes where they learn different culture values from different tribes in Ivory Coast. “Most of these children have been completely separated from their communities and they even hardly know their local dialects. These sessions help them to reintegrate back in the society” Father Vincent, the director of the centre, says.
One thing that I personally found interesting about this centre is that it also seeks to keep parents connected and responsible for their children. For example, before the centre provides any additional support to the child such as medical treatment, their parents are first asked to do it, and the centre only intervenes once it has identified the parent really unable to do so. For children who have been socially separated from their parents, the centre also has a mission to reunite them through regular one-to-one meetings with each of them. After the 2 years’ program is completed, the centre still follows up on their performance in the outside world, and make sure they are not left alone.
It was such a nice afternoon spent at this centre. After a delicious lunch with everyone, I had a little chat with some of the children here, and it was nice to here that they do have dreams for things to do in future. Check out some of their testimonies here: