September 16 2011

Côte d’Ivoire: A tale of two villages

15/09/2011 - The children arrived at SOS Children's Village Abobo-Gare in late August, after six months of evacuation to Aboisso. Their return was a cause of celebration.

Photo: SOS Archives
After half a year of evacuation, the children were overjoyed to be at home at last - Photo: SOS Archives
The children entered through the Abobo's village gate in song; the same gate they were forced to leave through due to the sound of nightly gunfire that terrorised their community earlier this year. They were happy to return finally home ", our SOS colleague in Côte d'Ivoire, Stéphanie Gisèle Nzickonan said. Their joy was visibly clear by the hugs, laughs, and emotional atmosphere that was enhanced by the welcome they received by their brothers who came from the youth houses to warmly welcome them home.

Instability arose after the announcement of the results of the second round of the presidential election, a time when the country found itself with two presidents, two prime ministers and two governments. As a precautionary measure 150 children, their SOS mothers and others were evacuated from the SOS Children's Village in Abobo-Gare in Abidijan and hosted by their counterparts over 100km away in the SOS Children's Village in Aboisso. 

SOS Archives
Each had taken just one bag of belongings for six months - Photo: SOS Archives
Excited by the idea of returning home to their own beds after their forced exile, many of the children hardly slept "some were already awake at 3am" according to the village director. The mothers were also euphoric: “It is really good to feel at home. It is true that we were at ease and well cared in Aboisso, but it is much better to be at home.” In preparing for the children’s homecoming, some SOS mothers returned in advance to clean their homes and prepare the village. Tree trunks were painted in white, the lawn cropped and the yard swept for a return that became a festive occasion, culminating in a great buffet, dancing and the input of famous local artists and dignitaries.

In this, the first ever SOS Children's Village in Africa, these children warmly appreciated a return to normality. A normality that SOS Children’s Villages has helped sustain in the Abobo-Gare community for the past 40 years.

This is what the children had to say:

SOS Archives
The celebration at home was filled with laughter, songs and dancing - Photo: SOS Archives
Prisca, 16
I had a very nice stay in Aboisso. I was very happy to meet my brothers and sisters of Aboisso; even if I missed the company of my friends of Abidjan. However, with the time I became close to Aboisso's people and I even became attached to certain persons. What I found most remarkable during my stay there was the love between us brothers and sisters; between our SOS mothers and especially, the love our SOS mothers had for us. It was as if we always lived together. The links were so deep among us and it was very well. Life together was so easy that the separation was finally difficult. I find that SOS Children's Villages does a great work. I thank the organization for all that they do for the children. Only God will return it to them hundredfold.

Alphonse, 15
I am very happy to return in my village because it is here where I have grown up. The most pleasant aspect in Aboisso was the games and the solidarity which existed between us. We helped each other, but there were also small quarrels which did not last for a long time. SOS children's Villages make a good work. I encourage them to continue.

Tidiane, 9
I am happy to see my village again. What was interesting in Aboisso was that we had too much fun and there were also many leisure activities. The relationships were very well with our brothers and sisters. There were no problems. I think that SOS children's villages make a good work. It gives us a chance to live. We receive a good education and I think that is good.

Photo: SOS Archives
Glad to be home with their friends, homes and toys, the boys are all smiles - Photo: SOS Archives
Estelle, 17
I am happy to return to Abobo-Gare, because I missed the village. I missed my dad [the village director], I missed everybody. I liked the stay in Aboisso. What marked me most was that we were able to do what we couldn't do in Abobo-Gare; such as doing the cooking with fire woods for example. It was a beautiful experience. I think that SOS children's Villages make a good work. They knew how to surmount the crisis, it's good. Thanks to SOS children's Villages, we had no problems; we did not experience stress during the crisis. SOS children's Villages is brave and I can just say thank you!

Hermann Richmond, 10
I am very happy to return to Abobo-Gare; I missed the village. What I liked to Aboisso was the activities which were organized in the village. During a football match I had a fracture in the arm and in the hospital, they put me a plaster. All my friends signed on the plaster saying that these signatures were going to stimulate the fast cure of my arm.

Samuel, 14
I am happy to return to Abobo-Gare because I am going to see again my village. What marked me to Aboisso were the heat and the warm welcome. We were very well welcomed. There was also food; we ate very well. I congratulate SOS children's Villages for all that they do for us. They allow us to live, to go to school and treat us when we are sick.