The transformation of Saint Thérèse Church in Skikda into an orphanage stands as a story of resilience and renewal. Located in the northeastern coastal city of Skikda, Algeria, this historic church, originally built during the French colonial period, has found a new purpose as a place of care and support for vulnerable children. This article explores the church's history, its architectural significance, and the journey from a religious site to an orphanage, highlighting the impact it has on the local community.

Historical Background

Saint Thérèse Church was constructed during the early 20th century when Algeria was under French colonial rule. The church served the spiritual needs of the Catholic community in Philippeville (now Skikda), reflecting the architectural styles and religious influences of that era. Its design featured traditional elements commonly found in European churches, such as stained glass windows, high vaulted ceilings, and a prominent bell tower.

Following Algeria's independence in 1962, many colonial-era churches faced uncertainty regarding their future use. As the country's religious landscape shifted, some churches were repurposed for different functions, while others fell into disrepair. Saint Thérèse Church, however, found new life in its transformation into an orphanage, a change that has had a profound impact on the local community.

Architectural Significance

The architecture of Saint Thérèse Church showcases elements of Romanesque and Gothic styles, with arched windows, stonework, and decorative carvings. Despite its transformation into an orphanage, much of the church's original structure has been preserved, serving as a reminder of its historical roots. The adaptive reuse of the church has allowed it to maintain its architectural integrity while serving a vital social purpose.

The Transformation into an Orphanage

The repurposing of Saint Thérèse Church into an orphanage reflects a broader trend in Algeria of reimagining and revitalizing historic buildings for new purposes. The transformation was driven by the need to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children without families or those in vulnerable situations. The church's spacious interiors, with large open areas and ample natural light, made it an ideal location for creating living spaces, classrooms, and recreational areas for the children.

Today, the orphanage serves as a sanctuary for children in need, offering not only necessities like food, clothing, and shelter, but also education, emotional support, and a sense of community. The transformation has had a positive impact on Skikda, with residents and organisations contributing to the orphanage's success through donations, volunteer work, and community engagement.