August 14 2017

Get to Know an SOS Village: Dassa, Benin

Meet some of the 150 smiling faces growing up at the SOS Village in the western African nation of Benin.

Opened in 2006, the SOS Village in Dassa-Zoumé, Benin, is the 456th SOS Village opened worldwide.

The SOS Village in Dassa is home to 153 children and young adults who have lost the care of their families. At the SOS Village, each child is raised in a close-knit family headed by a devoted SOS Mother. There is also an SOS Kindergarten and an SOS Primary School, where more than 300 children receive a quality education.

The grounds at the SOS Village in Dassa, Benin, which was first opened in 2006.


Children play ping pong during their summer vacation at the SOS Village in Dassa, Benin.


Children, in matching SOS uniforms, play on the playground at the SOS Kindergarten in Dassa, Benin.


(Some) children listen attentively to their teacher in a classroom at the SOS kindergarten in Dassa, Benin.

In Dassa and in Benin generally, vulnerable children are risk of being trafficked or sold into domestic servitude by their families. There is a cultural tradition in Benin known as vidomegon, in which children from poor families are placed in richer families as a way for the children to gain access to opportunity.
However, in contemporary Benin, these children often live a slave-like existence full of domestic chores. The children mainly come from rural areas, and the vast majority of them are girls because sons are seen as a bigger asset for the parents. Sometimes, financial gain can be a motive behind vidomegon and some children are sold as domestic servants or laborers.

In addition, the SOS Village in Benin operates an advocacy program to raise awareness of children’s rights. They also work with nearly 400 at-risk families in the country to strengthen the family economically as a way to prevent child abandonment.