A foster mother in a Liberian refugee camp!
Youde Solange Kouisse is a 60 years old woman whom I met in Solo refugee camp in Grand Gedeh county, Liberia in 2013 while working there with an international NGO. She had seven grown-up children in Ivory Coast and they were living far away from her when the conflict had started more than two years ago. She had to flee the country by herself. In the camp, she met a couple who were from her own area. They had four biological children and were also foster parents to two children who got separated from the family. Suddenly the mother died. Then Solange decided to take responsibilities of six children as a foster mother.
When I asked her about the decision, she very calmly replied, “Every child is a child. I felt very sorry when their mother passed away. I knew it was difficult for the father to look after the children, and so I decided to care for them. I do not depend on any organization. God will help me.” She has lost touch with all her children in Ivory Coast when the mobile phone with their numbers got stolen a year ago, which makes her sad. But six children have got a new mother.
I feel honoured to meet ordinary women doing extraordinary things in different parts of the world. They have the capacity to touch others with empathy and generosity while facing serious challenges in own lives. They remind me that human beings can be greater than their own sufferings and help me in maintaining faith in our collective future.
(Two of Solagne’s children were not home when I had met her. The photograph shows seven children; four of them are her foster children, and three are from the neighborhood. I have taken her consent to share the photos.)