Last Sunday a couple of people from work including myself went to an orphanage here in Conakry to continue some work started here a few weeks ago. The Orphanage is called Foyer de St. Joseph (St. Joseph’s Home) and is run by Father Etienne, a French Catholic Priest.
Father Etienne opened the orphanage over a decade ago as place to provide street children with a home after either being kicked out of their own home or been orphaned and displaced.
Father Etienne spends the early hours of the everyday going into the streets of Conakry to find homeless boys to who they provide a bed, nourishment and some semblance of normal life. However, they do seek out the children’s parents in order to reunite them before taking them into the orphanage and other times reuniting them with their families years after they have been taken in by the Foyer.
The Foyer also tries to make sure that the children are taught enough basic literacy skills so that the children can return to school and not be behind their peers.
Despite the great work already done by Father Etienne and his team the Foyer needs all the help they can get to improve the lives of the children in the home. As part of my company’s commitment to working with communities we identified the Foyer as an institution that could use some help. A colleague of mine came up with the idea of starting a vegetable garden so the children could grow their own vegetables. We also took along some trees to plant around the Foyer to liven up the place.
Even though we said we wanted to do the preparation of the soil and planting, the children were extremely keen to get involved and soon were clutching rakes, shovels and anything else they could get hold of so as to help us prepare their vegetable garden.
I always like taking part in these initiatives from my company and have a soft spot for working with children. This means I jump at these opportunities and enjoy the work immensely!
Finally there was one thing that stuck with me from the day and it was something Father Etienne said after presenting the work the Foyer does which was prompted by this question:
“What is the most important thing in the world? It’s love of course.”