The story of Mama Benjamin (Mama B)
She is a mother of 12 children, 5 died (she buried) and 2 are missing. Her missing children are 30 year old builder Agossou and 28 year old painter Akakpo both left their village Vogan for Lagos but never returned, a third son Edem a 25 year old Electrician/plumber lives somewhere in Vogan village.
Jennifer, our Foundation founder, met Mama B in the main market in Lomé where Mama B approached her to carry her shopping for her. She had Baby Benjamin dangling from her back, limp, malnourished, and anemic. They both looked starved. She had no money to feed him and no breast milk left.
Jennifer noticed the situation and stopped shopping. She asked Mama B if she knew of a hospital nearby and Mama B immediately said yes; having buried 5 children, she knew to grasp this opportunity quickly so she took off further into the market to a health centre making sure Jennifer followed.
Her name is Koevi Dédé SAMA-SENA, 48 years old. She is from a town called Vogan, North-East of Lomé, Togo.
She was homeless, she was on the run from an abusive husband whom she had 2 boys with 18month old Benjamin at the time, and Gérard who was 5 years old.
She also had 10 other children with her first husband an elderly local farmer. When he died she had to leave the home and remarry. Life with her second husband had become unbearable so she was only able to flee with her youngest child living her other child behind. Her own family also destitute had no room for her so she became homeless.
When we met she had been sleeping in the market at night and cooking and washing on beach, her Headpan ( used as a shopping cart) was her only asset. She lived in the open with her Baby. She told us about her youngest children Chéché a 15 year old boy, Sonia a 11 years old girl, 5 year old Gérard and 18 month old Benjamin; you could see her pain and misfortune in her stressful smile. Chéche, Sonia and Gérard all lived in different homes with different people.
We decided that once Benjamin got better we were going to surprise her with her own home and bring her 4 youngest under one roof to live as a family. We realised that we were her only hope…so off we went to Vogan.
Benjamin now lives in a home with his Mother and siblings. We also sent Mama B and her children to train at an Organic farm, she has chosen farming as her profession and lives off the land. She feeds nourishes and nutures her children happily.
Her year rent cost CFA36,000 / €50School fees per child up to CFA28,000 / €30Mama B found a school near her home for Chéche, Sonia and Gérard. When it was time for Benjamin to start school we travelled to see the school in Vogan. This opened up a new chapter to this story.
The Raffia village school was struggling to pay the teachers because several children couldn’t pay their fees. We were able to pay all Mama B’s children fees, and decided to ask for support for the others… To find out more please read our blog post on Vogan school.