Despite being born healthy, baby Luisa endured months of violence at the hands of her parents. Doctors feared she might never be able to walk or talk. After time spent in intensive care, and soon after her first birthday, Luisa came to live with her new family at the SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Mexico – an SOS Village which looks after children with special needs. Thanks to the love and intensive care of her SOS mother, Valeria, and intensive therapy from the SOS Therapy and Rehabilitation Centre, Luisa is making fantastic progress.
Luisa was lucky. In Mexico, and in many other countries, there are very few home-based care services offered to children with special needs. Sadly, children with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty and many have no access to education, healthcare or rehabilitation services. For example, in developing countries, around 98% of children with disabilities receive no formal education or training. Many are prone to discrimination and are particularly vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and neglect.
Caring for children with special needs
SOS Children has extensive experience in providing care and offering support to children with disabilities. SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Mexico is one of five Children’s Villages specifically designed to care and look after children with mental and physical disabilities. Children with special needs are provided with an SOS mother, a family and an education, as well as specialist medical, rehabilitative and therapeutic care. We also support families in the community who are faced with the challenged that come with caring for a child with a disability. We currently provide direct care for 400 children worldwide who have a range of disabilities.
SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutiérrez
SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutiérrez offers a home to 70 children who are cared for by specially trained SOS mothers and staff. The Village consists of nine family houses, an SOS School for children with special needs and an SOS Therapy and Rehabilitation Centre. Here, children are offered different types of occupational, speech, hydrotherapy and physiotherapy. To help families in the community who care for children with disabilities, both the School and Therapy Centre are open to children from the local area. This helps families cope with their situation and the overall stress of caring for a child with a disability, which in some cases can lead to child abandonment.
When Armando arrived at SOS Children’s Village Tuxtla Gutiérrez six years ago, he was shy and rejected any kind of physical contact. Today, the 14-year-old has learned how to cook and is convinced that he can do anything if he really wants to! When Armando arrived at the Village, he only spoke a native dialect and found it difficult to interact with others. Despite this, his SOS mother Sonia, and the whole Village community where quick to give him lots of attention, care and love. Slowly but surely, Armando started to open up and gain confidence. Supported by his teacher Nancy, Armando has learned many things at the SOS School for children with special needs, including how to cook and make bracelets out of seeds and stones. He has also learned to speak Spanish! His SOS mother Sonia says: ‘I am very happy and satisfied with the progress Armando has made. He helps me a lot in the kitchen, and sometimes he brings me necklaces and bracelets that he has made at school.’ It’s very exciting and rewarding for everybody who knows and loves Armando to follow his progress day by day. He has found a home and a family and is constantly being encouraged to develop his skills and talents.
A family for life
Many people often ask what happens to children, including those with special needs, once they become adults. Children who join families in our Children’s Villages will continue to be supported until they become as self-sufficient as they can be. Of course, there is absolutely no certainty that a child with a disability will be able to become fully independent in later life. In that case, they will continue to receive ongoing support from SOS Children. As in all our Children’s Villages, the work of SOS Children does not end once the child becomes independent. They remain part of their SOS family for the rest of their lives.