Perched on a gentle slope on the outskirts of the city is the Lilongwe SOS Children’s Village, in central Malawi, where a total of 166 children and youths live. 49 of them stay in the youth hostels while 117 live with their SOS mothers in family houses.
Maku is happily playing with her new friends on the veranda of her new home. She is one of the 12 children who came to our Village this year. ‘I love this place, my new friends and my new mother,’ says Maku, her face glistening with happiness.! She and some of the new children have already started attending classes at SOS schools.
Joe, Edmond and Eva are at the reception of the Village Administration Office waiting for results of the exams they took a couple of months ago, anxiety written all over their faces. They are planted in their seats like statues. ‘Congratulations, you have passed and been accepted into the college you applied to,’ they are told. They spring to their feet and, like beheaded cockerels, run in different directions. Are they crazy? Probably, yes. Extreme happiness can drive someone crazy. Jeremy and Earnest have been accepted into the Catholic University to study education and social sciences, respectively. The ever-smiling Eva is going back to Ghana, not to a high school this time, but to the University of Ghana to study English and Economics. With Luna already in South Africa studying Law, this brings the number of students at universities this year to 10. Cathy and Edward, who are still on cloud nine because they also passed their examinations in journalism, storm in to congratulate the three.
In April, 6 primary school-going pupils sat for Ghana Baseline Tests. They all passed and are busy preparing for Ghana International College Entrance Examinations. They are a very hardworking group of bookworms! In the same month, Sanga sat for the International College Entrance Examinations and passed! He has just sent an e-mail saying that he is enjoying himself in Ghana.
Mav receives a letter carrying some good news from Ghana. He scurries into the Village Director’s office to break it open. He majestically sinks into the visitors’ seat and proudly fishes out an envelope from his right trouser pocket, opens it and passes it to the Village Director. It is a notification of his results. He has not just passed IB examinations, but has passed with flying colours and is eligible to be admitted into any university he has applied to. He is going to be the 11th university student from our village.
In the months of May and June, a number of clubs mushroomed in the village. Members of these clubs have been very busy since then. They participated in sports, big walks, dancing and other competitions where they scooped several prizes. The clubs have also established partnerships with other youth groups and organisations. The Village wishes to thank all of you most sincerely for your support and care throughout the year!
Family Strengthening Programme:
This year has been hectic with us having supported 41 secondary school students with tuition and boarding fees as well as 15 tertiary students at our VTC who have been attached to various organisations. There are now 2 boreholes in nearby villages providing water and sanitation with chlorine given to all 12 villages through Ministry of Health.
Trainings were conducted which will ensure survival, growth and development of children and effective pre-education for children in the area. We are embarking on a programme to enable families to monitor the survival, growth and development of children.
Our work with schools continues in group organisation, child care and government policies on child care. School management committees and Parent Teachers Associations have been trained on the effective management of school activities. This will enhance their effective delivery of services so child’s rights are observed. Our work with the local communities also continues enabling them to organise themselves, make their own decisions and to identify local resources to improve their standards of living.
With our 540 little ones we have had a busy and successful year! 60 children graduate into Std. 1 at ‘big school’ early 2010. Our school really looks beautiful thanks to our maintenance staff. The children made cards, decorated eggs and took Easter buns home to their families during the Easter holidays. The three Open Days were well attended by parents and guardians where they discussed their children’s progress with the Educators. We also received many donations from Manchester & Liverpool Universities as well as many individuals too who helped us have such a successful year. Many sincere thanks to you all!
Our Primary School did very well last year, far above the national average, and we are sure that this years results will be equally as good if not better. In sports we did well too winning prizes in athletics and football. We thank our donors and sponsors for the invaluable support!
In our Secondary School forms 2 and 4 have been the academic focus recently as their final exams were written in October/Nov. Now starts the nail-biting time until the results are out, probably in late December.
Our school participated in athletics, handball where we took fourth position, football and netball In the Coca-Cola trophy, Kingston was voted the best football player in the Central Region and represented the region in the finals. He was selected for a camp for the under 17’s to prepare for the Central African Coca-Cola tournament held in Namibia where he performed extremely well. He was then drafted into the Under 17 Malawi National Team and played in Saudi Arabia in August. ‘I am very happy to have played for the National Football Team. I hope I will maintain the form I have at the moment,’ Kingston said. And then the Government offered him a place in a Boarding School. Hard work does indeed pay off!
In the regional field events, Gift came 1st in both javelin and shot-put and broke records in both events too. Impressed with his performances he was promised a place in a team to participate in the Southern African Zone Six Competition in South Africa.
The school’s best 6 students attended a one-day workshop on Leadership where they learnt how to lead, to empower, to aim and how to direct & to make choices. ‘I learnt a lot about having a positive influence on other people and the community……. about the qualities of a good leader: vision; honesty; integrity and taking responsibility. I also learnt that a leader meets challenges and he/she must face them, it is part of life.’ are some of the comments from the participants. Robert was voted our new head boy and Faith, sports prefect. Congratulations to both of you!!!
Vocational Training Centre
Every year SOS VTC provides hope to the many out of school youths who have nowhere to pursue tertiary education.
This year 145 students were awarded international certificates, which has also been echoed by massive employment opportunities and seen our achievers in Production Manager positions for reputable companies. Ackim, hired by the National Intelligence Services, an IT graduate, was granted a scholarship and is going to Germany for further studies.
We have 157 students. The 81 students that sat for the June 2009 City & Guilds certificate all passed. The British Council Country Director visited us and acknowledged our good work and extended an invitation to staff, some students and senior management to a special reception organised by the British Council. We are very proud of ourselves.
The VTC is truly turning into a model to many stakeholders as was evident when it lead all technical institutions in Malawi in organising the displays during the 10th Anniversary Celebration of TEVETA, a government technical regulatory body. The high involvement of the VTC staff in developing national vocational training curricula, means that our staff is appreciated out there. The centre has not only focussed on training but has raised its ambition to provide food security to all SOS Children’s Villages by engaging into full gear of food production supported by the National Office. This will see our villages sourcing most of the staple food within the association.
One Wednesday afternoon a man cycled to the SOS Medical Centre at Lilongwe with a baby girl tied to his back and arrived to find all passes gone. After pleading with the guard he managed to get registered. The baby girl weighed 9 kgs and was immediately taken to our clinical officer. She had malaria. Our lab registered 1,056 cases of malaria this year. Later our skin clinic found the baby girl had bed sores. After treatment dad his baby back onto his back and went off happily. This patient marked 1193 new beneficiaries who have visited the Medical Center clinic this year.
From April to September our Rehab Programme (CRP) saw 235 children. Out of all these children Chiko, aged 5 was very weak and handicapped so was given treatment and a metal walking frame made at the clinic, to assist him to walk home.
Jimmy was a TB patient registered in January and came to se us in a very weak condition. His smear was positive, but after 2 months of medication was checked again – joy of joys - his results were negative. After 5 months his test results were negative again. Now Jimmy is fit and back at work. He is now a TB messenger spreading the word that TB can be treated!!! Jimmy represents one of the 49 TB patients seen this year.
All this is possible because of the generous support from individuals, companies and, particularly, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Disabled and Aged with whom we work hand to hand. We are very appreciative and very grateful to you all for making our CRP and Clinic run smoothly despite the financial crunch.