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Belgium, The Fishermen Children
2014

IBIS was created on the 6 of July 1906 by King Albert in Ostend (Belgium) to offer a home and a maritime school to orphan boys whose father had perished at sea. Traditionally the children would be taken in by other fishermen families. But it was a heavy charge and the boys would often end up working in the fields. IBIS offered them a home and a professional education, allowing them to follow in their ancestors’ trade and tradition.

Nowadays, IBIS is not only an orphanage, it is now a boarding school for boys coming from families in difficult situations, boys showing behaviour problems or suffering from affective or social neglect. There are 110 boys at most, ranging from 6 to 16 years old. For the most part of them, they come from Ostende. They go to primary school, then receive a technical maritime secundary education.
The School Boat for Fishermen children receives and forms children to become can boy until they get 12 years old. Then they are welcoming on others boats until their 15. They receive room and board, a structure, social and emotional care, practical skills in a quiet and safe environment.

During these years passed in IBIS School, students are formed to the fisherman or sailor profession (they learn how to make or repare sails) and they also have to know how to speak French, Flemish and English. IBIS is more than a boarding school. Before leaving School, some students can in turn, pass an exam in order to become Captain. For some boys it is their actual home. Some children go back to their family some weekends, but the school is open the whole year and some boys rarely go back home.

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