How it all started

How it all started

My name is Yvonne Voorn, originally from the country of Suriname (South America) and right now living in Holland. I am the founder of “THE SHEEPFOLD” Foundation. It all started in 1981 when by Divine appointment I met an African man at the train station in Hilversum ( Holland), who was travelling back to Hungary after visiting friends. I’ve noticed he had trouble carrying his two big luggages’s so I offered him help. After taking seats in the same compartments in the train he asked me where I came from and if I’ve ever been to Africa. I told him I come from Suriname and that I’ve been to South Africa. “Oh no!” the man said. “I mean real Africa. That is West Africa”. On my question as to where he came from, he said “The Gambia, I am a Gambian”. I told him I’ve never heard of The Gambia. He asked me to give him my address so he could ask his parents in The Gambia to send me an invitation. In the meantime I collected some information about The Gambia and started to read. It took some time before the invitation came; they probably had to discuss about taking a stranger in their home. But finally it did.

It was March 1982.

I had a good flight to Dakar. There was no direct flight to The Gambia, so my host, who picked me up at the airport in Dakar and I stayed over at her friend’s house. The man I met at the train station in Holland was right. This was truly a totally different country. Anyway, I was so happy I got there, I could leap for joy. Once we arrived at our address dinner was served. At that time everybody left me all by myself in the room. The food was served in a bowl. There was no cutlery and no plate. I was just sitting there staring at the food on the table, waiting for cutlery and a glass to drink water. It took some time before I realized I was supposed to eat with my hands. Fortunately they did not get me wrong.

Later that night when I was going to the toilet I was confronted with the fate of the disadvantaged child in the undeveloped countries. The maid of the house, or the handy ”man” (this was a child!!) was lying on the bare floor and a cockroach just got off of her head. The condition of this child and what I saw that night broke my heart. I hoped never to see this again. But this was just the beginning.

The next day we left for The Gambia. We arrived at Banjul; (The Gambia) at around 20.00 o’clock and met shortly with some people in the compound. I stayed a month in The Gambia to get to know the country. By the time I was leaving the country I had to deal with another problem. I missed my flight! I should say Nigerian Airline didn’t make its stop in The Gambia!? So the next morning we had to drive all the way to Dakar (Senegal). But there arose another problem. Once in Senegal we found the office of the airline closed. And if this was not enough, my ticket expired. SABENA (a former Belgian airline) was kind enough to let me use this ticket but I had to wait for seven days! Fortunately we were allowed to stay with the same Senegalese friend again. This friend was joking with me because I was combing the hair of their “maid” (the child). I was probably being to social and friendly to her “maid” (remember this was a child!).You are not supposed to. These children do not have rights, no voice, no one to speak out for them.

As soon I was back in Holland I wanted to go back to The Gambia. This I did and stayed for three weeks. I also choose to stay this time in the compound to see exactly how things were. The real life I mean. Poor nutrition, children staying up late to sell stuff on the streets so another member of the family could eventually go to school. On the marketplace they sometimes get food from the bus passengers and if they’re lucky the vendors on the market allow them to lick the pots and pans with leftover. Children from around 9 years of age (mostly girls) coming to town looking for a “job”, only to be abused. It’s terrible to see all these things and not being able to do something. Also these children have no rights, and no voice to speak up on their behalf. Many of these children become prey of gangs and criminals. Very vulnerable, future gangmembers and rebels! The government is having trouble solving this problem. I could write a book on what I saw. It’s as if these children have no right on education, a better way of living and so on; no future!!

Thank God for some help coming from some western countries through the building of schools, medical facilities and adoption. Because of this also the family is being helped.

Once back (again) in Holland and with a burden for these children, I asked the Lord what He expected me to do by letting me witness such a terrible situation; what He wanted me to do. I knew deep in my heart that this encounter on the train station in Hilversum was no coincidence; it was a Divine appointment! I have been back to The Gambia several times since then. I started to look for help and together with some friends in Holland I set up a foundation for the benefit of the street children. This was the birth of “THE SHEEPFOLD”.

OUR VISION IS:

To provide Shelter, a healthy Family-environment and Education. This by building a centre where 16 children will be living permanently and cared for and nourished by loving dedicated “mothers”. In this ranch we will also be providing shelter/day-care (see multifunctional building) for children who do have parents but have “chosen” for the street life because of the hopeless situation at home. They will receive three meals a day and, of course, showered with love, care and attention. They will also have the opportunity to learn a trade. The Social Welfare Department of the government will be tracking down this specific group.

WHY THIS APPROACH

The government in The Gambia would like to see facilities of this kind spread around the country. In order to realize this project we need € 80.000

I hope your hearth is moved after reading this story, and will be more than willing to contribute to this project. Let’s join hands together to give these children a better future.

Send your donation to

IBAN/SEPA Nummer: NL92INGB0004560662
BIC Nummer: INGBNL2A
Banknaam: ING BANK N.V

t.n.v. Stichting The Sheepfold
te Lelystad

THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF THE CHILDREN