The PACOPE-SPE (Programmes d’Accompagnement des Communautés pour la Protection de l’Enfant et des Systèmes de Protection de l’Enfant) aim to provide a long-term response to children who do not have their fundamental rights fully respected. To achieve this, SOS Children’s Villages Monde and its partners support the most vulnerable children and families on a case-by-case basis in four West African countries. In this new series of articles, we present the stories of our beneficiaries, whose situation has evolved over the years. First episode in Guinea with Fatoumata*, a very vulnerable caregiver who became an entrepreneur in a few years and who is also committed to child protection in her community.
Fatoumata*, caregiver of 7 children (3 boys and 4 girls)
Admitted to the Family Strengthening Programme in February 2014 (then to PACOPE from 2017)
(*First name changed for confidentiality reasons)
The PACOPE-SPE (Programmes d’Accompagnement des Communautés pour la Protection de l’Enfant et des Systèmes de Protection de l’Enfant) aim to provide a long-term response at different levels: from support for state actors (ministries, town halls, etc.) to encourage concerted action on child protection, to case-by-case support for the most vulnerable families and children.
Families, communities and authorities are all stakeholders in these programmes, which aim to create a community which is capable of addressing vulnerability issues on its own and establishing prevention mechanisms. Wherever the programme is implemented, local associations, child protection committees, NGOs and national, regional and local authorities are active partners.
With the PACOPE-SPEs, SOS Villages d’Enfants Monde and its partners support families and communities and, even if the contexts vary from one region to another, they have the same objective: to improve the situation of families for greater resilience, to continuously strengthen the community, to support young people on their way to employment, to implement child protection at all levels to enable them to develop in a healthy, protective and supportive environment and to play an active role. The PACOPE-SPE are included in the 4th Framework Agreement (2022-2026) that the Luxembourg NGO SOS Villages d’Enfants Monde signed in February 2022 with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE).
In Guinea, the PACOPE-SPEs support 3,926 children and young people* in the communities of Kankan, Conakry, Labé and N’Zérékoré.
*Target groups evaluated by the end of 2022
Initial situation of the family:
Following the death of her husband, Fatoumata* moved to N’Zérékoré with her 7 children (4 girls and 3 boys). At the time, the family’s only income came from her small business selling hair locks and palm oil on the market. It was difficult to meet the daily needs (food, school supplies, etc.) and the children could not attend school regularly. Faced with this situation, the family was admitted to the family strengthening programme in 2014 (and then to PACOPE from 2017).
Evolution of the situation:
Initially, Fatoumata could benefit from direct support, allowing her to provide for her children’s basic needs (food, health, schooling). In 2017, she joined a Village Savings & Credit Association (VSCA) where she is the treasurer. She was thus able to benefit from training on the methodology of solidarity savings and credit and on the management of the group.
In four years, thanks to her integration into the VSCA, Fatoumata has developed her Income Generating Activities (IGAs), going from one in 2017 to four in 2021, which today ensure her financial autonomy and provide employment for ten people in the community. The combination of her role in the VSCA and her IGAs creates a real virtuous circle for Fatoumata as the diversification of her sources of income has allowed her to multiply the value of her credits by 8, which leads her to invest even more in her IGAs.
Village Savings and Credit Associations (VSCAs):
VSCAs are groups of community members who meet regularly to better manage their money. Predominantly constituted by women (more than 90%), VSCAs are an effective and sustainable way to build family resilience and provide greater inclusion within the community. In Guinea, there are 69 VSCAs in the communities supported by PACOPE-SPE.
Thanks to the increase in her income, Fatoumata has made lasting improvements to her family’s living conditions and ensured the basic needs and protection of her children: civil registration, vaccination, use of impregnated mosquito nets, medical follow-up, hygiene, sanitation, positive discipline and protection and awareness-raising of the child against violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. Her youngest children are in school and the oldest have been able to enrol in university (one of her children has a degree in sociology and another is a state-qualified nurse). She has also been entrusted with the care of two small children from her home village.
Fatoumata’s positive experience is an example of the sustainable benefits that PACOPE-SPE brings to families and communities. Thanks to the skills she has demonstrated in the management of her activities, by applying the knowledge gained from her various financial education courses and by integrating into a VCSA, Fatoumata has been able to considerably and sustainably improve the living environment of her children. She can ensure a future for them while being a successful entrepreneur, creating jobs in her community.