The ceremony was presided over by the Minister of population and social reforms, Ms. Zila Mahamadou, in the presence of nearly 800 invited guests, amongst them administrative, political, traditional and religious authorities, representatives of NGOs operating in Tahoua as well as people from the surrounding communities.
The primary school is already up and running - Photo: SOS Archives
The children who have already been living in the village for several months were happy with the inauguration ceremony. They took an active part in the manifestations through sketches and poems on such evocative subjects as children's rights. They performed songs and dances throughout the ceremony. After the symbolic cutting of the ribbon, the invited guests were able to visit the family houses, the kindergarten and the primary school which are already full with children. They went also to the school canteen where the children always have a variety of nutritious and attractively presented food and beverages during their break.
It has taken 21 months to complete the construction works since the laying of the cornerstone on 21 June 2006. The newly inaugurated village consists of twelve family houses, an SOS Kindergarten and a primary school where children are provided with quality education. There is also an SOS Socio-Medical Centre to provide people with health care and community outreach programmes such as family planning, since unwanted pregnancy is a common problem among young girls and is the first cause of the high mother and child mortality rate. HIV/AIDS and adult illiteracy are also major concerns of the socio-medical centre.
Quality education is essential for a bright future - Photo: SOS Archives
Building a new village in Tahoua goes hand in hand with a series of social actions which began in this area three years ago, following the starvation crisis in Niger that started in November 2004. Tahoua was among the most affected areas. On 7 August 2005, SOS Children's Villages Niger started an emergency relief programme in the city to assist the starving children and their families. The programme, which focussed essentially on food aid included three foodstuff distributions marking the first phase of the emergency relief programme. Nearly 120 tons of foods including rice, millet, sorghum, oil etc. were distributed to about 8,000 famine-affected children and vulnerable families. The beneficiaries were very happy with the foodstuff distribution and kept a positive image of SOS Children's Villages. "We still have in memory the great support brought to us by SOS Children's Villages when our region was struck by a severe famine. We were really heavily struck and the organisation did a lot to accompany us in these difficult moments. It took only some years and we are here again to inaugurate an SOS Children's Village which gives a reason to be proud not only to the city of Tahoua, but to the whole country", said the Governor of Tahoua, Mr Zéti Maïga.
The first SOS Children's Village in Niger opened in 1993, in the capital city of Niamey. It includes twelve family houses, a kindergarten, a primary school, three SOS youth houses, a football field and a small gymnasium where the children can do various forms of sports such as table tennis, gymnastics, etc. Since 2006, the village has a computer room where pupils from the primary school receive computer classes. The computer room is also opened to the local population who can have an easy access to the internet.
A third SOS Children's Village will soon be operational in Dosso, a bit over 200 km from the Niamey. Construction work started last month.