Has Sheriff launched a new fashion at SOS Children's Village Bakoteh? Since the twelve-year-old boy brought home live fish, the house of SOS mother Veronic has become a famous stop in the village!
It has been a while since Sheriff wanted to get goldfish. His two best friends from school already had goldfish at home and he felt a bit left out! He suggested the idea to his mother, saying they would be great to decorate his room, but what he maybe did not realise was how demanding such little creatures can be!
Sheriff, the famous goldfish boy!
"You have to change their water every day, because it gets dirty very quickly," explains Sheriff. "Yeah, and they also pooh everywhere in the water...yuck!" adds Adama, Sheriff's nine-year-old sister.
"My fish are still very small [smaller than a small paper clip!], but I'm prepared to take good care of them! I want to see them grow and when they are big enough and have babies, I'll give some of them away to some of my SOS siblings who want fish of their own!" continues Sheriff.
Four little ones looking at the tiny fish
Sheriff bought his fish with his own pocket money at a nearby fish breeder a couple of days ago. He brought them home in a glass jar and made a tank for them out of an old plastic container. To make them feel at home, he put some weed in and spread some shells around the bottom of the tank. Shells are easy to find at SOS Children's Village Bakoteh.
[Like elsewhere in The Gambia, instead of using gravel or putting down pavements, people put white shells on the ground. It's cheaper, decorative and prevents weeds from spreading over the paths!]
Sheriff's siblings are also delighted with the new 'attraction'. It's time to change the water in the tank and all the little ones gather around the bucket which contains the tiny fish. "They move so fast", says seven-year-old Galow, "it's difficult to count them". But Sheriff is already familiar with his eleven baby fish! Out of the eleven, three are a bit bigger. Sheriff gave these three names. There's Adama [named after his sister], Bakary and Saneh. But don't ask him which one is which! They all look alike at the end of the day!
Awa, another of Sheriff's five younger sisters, explains to some other children who have come to see the fish that her brother even puts his hand into the water. Everyone is impressed and wouldn't even dare to put their little finger into the tank, because they are too frightened that the tiny fish might bite it off!
The little girl also explains, amused, that she fell asleep while she was looking at them the other day. Maybe that is an idea for their mother: not to read bed-time stories, but place fish tanks in every bedroom!
Sheriff's brothers make sure the fish don't escape when he changes the tank water...
The children all look happy and everyone wants to learn more about fish! Veronic, Sheriff's mother is also happy: "Not only does it keep all the children busy, but it's also a good thing for Sheriff! He's my oldest son and having the fish is somehow teaching him to show responsibility," she explains with a big smile.
But just be careful... These newcomers are not only a distraction for the children. The cats at the village are also very interested and might want to have a closer look at the cute little fish as well. The children will soon have to teach them how to live side by side! SOS Children's Village Bakoteh will from now on be a safe home for children, cats...and fish!