SPES IS 10 YEARS OLD
SPES is 10 years old!
SPES means Hope in Latin.
SPES also corresponds to the first letters of the French words « Soutien Pour l’Enfance en Souffrance » which means “Support to suffering childhood”.
This association was created in January 2000, by a group of friends of various nationalities, under the leadership of Mr Njördur Njardvik who was President by right, because he was the one who had founded the association in order to support suffering childhood.
Mr Njördur Njardvik, an Icelandic man, has been President of SPES for 9 years, and he has significantly contributed to develop the association thanks to the huge financial support he could bring and continue to bring from Iceland.
So, SPES is an international association but with a strong Icelandic connotation.
And the original ideas remain the rule now, which means that members of the Council of Administration are exclusively volunteers; so SPES has very few running costs (less than ½ %): all the money sent to SPES goes to the children. The only people who get money from SPES are the local Togolese staff who work at the SPES homes in Lomé and Kpalimé.
At last, SPES’s vocation is firstly to save suffering children, then to lead them to become responsible and autonomous adults, active citizen bearing humanist values, remaining in the frame of their culture and Togolese traditions.
Today, in September 2010, we accommodate 132 children (almost half girls and half boys!), who are doing well: 102 in Lomé and 30 in Kpalimé. They live in superb buildings, the girls on one side and the boys on the other. They have a refectory, dormitories (4 in Lomé and 2 in Kpalimé), a Training centre and an Administrative building. Also, there are small buildings that house the guardians, Apatam and buildings for the generator or water disposal (well or drill and a water tower). The administrative buildings can accommodate people who come to work for SPES for a short time. Of course, Kpalimé ultimately will also have 4 dormitories.
The children are aged between a few months and 13 years and, except the smaller ones who remain at the SPES’ homes, all the others go to school.
Those children who are not too young or too old, and who are called « medium » go to a kindergarten where they are divided into 3 levels: Pre-nursery, Nursery 1 and Nursery 2. (a minibus takes them in the morning and returns them in the afternoon).
The older ones (who are in Lomé for the time being) go to the public primary school in Kélégougan, the area in Lomé where the SPES « village » is situated. They go there by foot, like all other children in this area. There we have also had 9 class-rooms built and we also support the school by giving them furniture and from time to time by paying the salaries of temporary teachers. The big problem is that the classes are overcrowded, sometimes with more than 100 pupils in the lowest classrooms.
Little Gracia, who is deaf, goes to a special school for deaf and dumb in a quarter of Lomé.
And 6 children go to the College in Kélégougan.
We will continue to accommodate new children at SPES homes (until finally we reach 108 in Lomé, and 60 in Kpalimé where we will later build two more dormitories). So we need new sponsors because we do not have enough on our waiting list. Then we will accommodate even more children, step by step as usual, according to new sponsors whom we will gradually find, until we reach full capacity in Lomé and Kpalimé (two lots of 108 children). To be sponsored, a child needs 77 € per months (around 70 £) or only 16 € per months to be co-sponsored (around 12, 50 £ per months).
Normally all the children are sponsored, which was not the case when we launched Kpalimé, because we gambled a little. In cases of co-sponsoring, we put the co-sponsors in contact with each other (by providing their names and addresses). To-day we have around 250 families who sponsor all our children. Ultimately we will need nearly twice this amount.
As for the money, it comes from subscriptions (around 35 € or 27 £ per year), donations (among them the Icelandic donations remain the most important ones) and sponsoring (that authorise us to assure the durability of the association, day after day). Besides this, some countries have created local SPES Associations: in Iceland, Belgium, Spain and United Kingdom.
In relation to buildings, we do not build anything if we have no money. This is how we launched our 2nd project, similar to Lomé’s, in Kpalimé, a town 120 Km North West of Lomé. The buildings are like those in Lomé and reflect the Togolese architecture of the Tembermas’ Tatas (two floor huts in the North of Togo). In Kpalimé, we have also built a three class-roomed building for the Nursery school within the Public Primary School in the Zomayi area, West of Kpalimé, because there we will have the SPES children who will increase the numbers attending the school.
Our projects: during 2010, are to continue the Kpalimé Project, finishing the Administrative Building and the Training Centre, then in 2011, we will build the third dormitory and in 2012, the fourth and last one, and paths between the buildings. And in Lomé we hope to get a free building plot, to build a house for the SPES teenagers.
So you can see that SPES still needs the financial support of all its friends!
In Lomé, the paid staff now comprise a Manager (Mrs Immaculée Ameganvi, a former manager of a primary school) and a male assistant manager, 27 “Mummies” (including 5 launderers: 4 women and one man, 1 « Grand Mummy » and 1 Mummy in charge of accompanying them to the kindergarten) and 5 “Uncles” (these are guardians, gardeners, a driver and a story teller), which is 34 people in total. The staff are very stable, and very much attached to the children; the Mummies replace or try to replace the real mothers!
In Kpalimé, we have started with one Manager, 8 “Mummies” and 3 “Uncles” and the financial balance will be reached with 30 accommodated children.
The whole thing is supervised by the SPES Togo team, and as we in Paris, they are all volunteers, and even give money or produce (Rice, Yogurt, sugar, etc.) in addition to their local subscription of 10 000 Francs CFA per year (around 15 € or 12 £). And every year, they succeed in getting various local grants mainly from Banks or various associations (Nana Benz, Rotary, Lyon’s, etc...).
How are the children chosen? SPES Togo does it, from a waiting list established by the local Social Affairs Department, and from among those who are suffering the most, that means children who would certainly die if not taken care of. They also must be less than 5 years old (except by special dispensation in order not to separate members of the same family), and they must pass some medical tests.
Of course, unfortunately, these admissions are restricted by certain quotas: first according to the places we have (it was 20 maximum in the first villa we rented, it’s now 60 in Kpalimé), and then according to the sponsors that we find, until we reach 108 children maximum at each site.
We also know that there are far more children to assist than we can manage, this is the reason why we have adopted the motto « Who saves a child, saves humanity »!
We think that within around five years, we will reach our objective to finally accommodate two lots of 108 Togolese children in Lomé and Kpalimé. For the time being, we focus on Togo only, in order to guarantee the durability of our project.
Of course, we also remain open to extending SPES to other part of the world, but with some conditions. Thus we have abandoned the idea of launching other SPES homes in Senegal, Cameroon or Brazil. The SPES General Assembly will decide other establishments when appropriate, but we will settle ourselves only in a country where we are able to find a volunteer team among our friends to supervise the good work of a Childhood home, and if, of course, the future budget is acceptable (now 77 € or around 60 £ per child per month). We do not reject the idea of a further 3rd establishment in Togo unless we go to Benin.
To conclude this overview of the SPES association, which is now 10 years old, of course I invite you to come and support us, if your heart tells you to do so, and according to your means!
What we are looking for today, are new sponsors, that means people, who commit themselves to have a privileged relationship with a child (mail exchanges, sending gifts, etc.) and of course also to regularly pay a minimum monthly amount of 16 € (around 12 £), until the child gets a job, is self supporting and therefore leaves the SPES home, while hoping that, in his turn, he will bring all he has found there, to other suffering children!
Claude Voileau, President of SPES International – September 2010
If you need some more information:
- Consult the web site at http://spesworld.free.fr or through Google at SPES Togo.
- Or phone to the President Claude Voileau at 00 33 4 78 04 25 53 or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or contact Michelle Voileau who is in charge of relationship with the sponsors at email@example.com.
The story began in march 2001. Few months later, first children joined SPES house regarding specific criteria.
They were 2, Martha and Jean, followed by Nadège (Nado), Jacob, Gilbert (Gilou) and more and more, because of the cruel needs of TOGO, unfortunately.
Tribute to the pionneers:
Njördur and Béra Njardvik (Iceland), Claude and Michelle Voileau (France), Victor and Françoise de Médeiros (Togo), Dina de Souza - Wilson (Togo), Prof. Jean Kossi and Maria Assimadi (Togo), Fidélia Koumako - Laban (Togo).
Spes website changes its colors: orange like the sun and the sand of Africa
More photos to invite you to be a part of Spes adventure
Easier to read to share with you the values of SPES
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Webmaster Philippe Platel: firstname.lastname@example.org
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