In 1970, after three years of civil war, Hermann Gmeiner visited Nigeria on the invitation of the “National Council of Women Society” (NCWS) and gained an insight on the needs of the population, particularly those of the children. After several meetings with concerned individuals of the country, the SOS Children’s Village Committee under the leadership of Mrs. Awoliyi was founded; this made it possible to raise the necessary funds for the construction of an SOS Children’s Village in Nigeria.
The Lagos State Government provided a piece of land in Isolo, a suburb of Lagos. Construction of the first SOS Children’s Village in Nigeria was started in 1970. In early 1973, the building work was completed and the first set of children moved in. In August 1980, the SOS Children’s Village Association of Nigeria was founded as a legal entity, overseeing its activities in the country.
In subsequent years, more SOS Children’s Village facilities were added especially in the area of education: kindergarten, primary school and vocational training centre that offers courses in various educational and vocational skills. For the most populated country in Africa with over 140 million inhabitants and illiteracy rate of approx. 43 % education is of utmost importance. After the first set of children were admitted and had out grown the SOS families, youth housing facilities with integration programmes started. Due to the limited capacity of the SOS Children’s Village Isolo, the need for a second SOS Children’s Village in Nigeria became apparent.
Consequently in 1993, the SOS Children’s Village Owu-Ijebu consisting of 12 family houses, a clinic, a kindergarten and a primary school was built. The village is located in Ogun State, approximately 145 km from Lagos. In January 1996,the first six children with their mothers and the Village director moved into”their” house. In 2003/2004, a community assistance project in the city centre of Lagos was set up which provides the community with self-help skills to master their own lives (First Aid, awareness, counselling and education, assistance for HIV/AIDS affected people, women’s empowerment, etc.). Starting in mid 2004, a family strengthening programme for needy family, especially those affected by HIV/Aids was started on both SOS Children’s Village locations. At the same time the first steps were taken to realize the idea of setting up a third SOS Children’s Village project in Nigeria near the capital Abuja. The fouth village was also constructed and started operation in 2010 in Jos Plateau State, the northern region of Nigeria.
An SOS Children’s Village in Nigeria has 10-12 family houses with medical facilities. There are six youth facilities. There are kindergarten and primary schools within the villages which are also open for children from the communities.
In Lagos, Owu-Ijebu, Gwagwalada, Jos, Ibada and Kaduna we have been running Family strengthening programs, where children and families in need benefit from vocational training, care, medical and food assistance in order to find an income generative activity and to be able to take care of their children on a long term basis. Through our family strengthening programmes (FSP) and our SOS children’s villages, everyday people benefit from the support of SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria.