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Child Sponsorship Report 2009, from Aqaba, Jordan

Sponsored child from Aqaba
Sponsored child from Aqaba

A child sponsorship report from Aqaba in Jordan. Written in 2009.

Dear Child Sponsors,

It is time for the facility report that you are certainly waiting for; I am pleased to report to you the major developments that took place in the SOS Children's Village Aqaba during the past six months. As well, I would like to take this opportunity to pass on the children's appreciation for supporting them and helping them to have a happy childhood.

The SOS Children’s Village Aqaba

The number of children living at the village differed since the beginning of the year 2009 up to this moment; as 16 new children were brought in from different orphanages while two boys transferred to the SOS youth house in Aqaba city. Consequently the total current number for children living at the village is 60 children living under the care of nine mothers; 37 go to schools, 14 attend the SOS nursery and the nine left are below nursery stage.

The most important action that took place in the second half of the year was the opening of the ninth family house in the village. This event was a challenge for everyone in the village since the admission of six biological siblings, known as the Kathem family, meant necessarily putting them in one house according to the SOS principles. At the same time there was no space to contain the entire family in one house. Therefore, the management of SOS-Jordan decided to give out one of the guest houses to the assistant village director, which in her turn sacrificed with the house allotted for her in favour of this family.

Prior to admitting the new arrivals, this house was renovated and equipped with beds, blankets, closets and other necessary stuff. At the same time one of the distinguished aunts was intensively prepared to take over the leadership of this family house. In spite of the simplicity of the new home the Kathem family's joy was unbelievably overwhelming; entering their small home sensing its warmth made them feel as if they were living in a fancy fairy tale castles!

Five of the Kathems joined a private school while the youngest enrolled in the SOS nursery. Their academic background was behind the knowledge of children of the same age due to not being enrolled in schools prior to joining the SOS community. This also added more challenges especially during the first few weeks. However; their mother and the pedagogic team at the village saved no effort to help them catch up with what they missed in the past years.

Another great change that was made in agreement with the Ministry of Social Development was obtaining missing official identity documents for a number of children, such as birth certificates, family books and identification cards. Obtaining those documents made the children able to enjoy all their rights just like any other children in Jordan from entering school to joining higher education and even practicing in any activity in their practical life.

This year the general performance of the children at school remarkably improved due to engaging the services of private tutors, who helped out the children overcome the difficulties they encountered in their school curriculum especially in English and Math subjects.    

In terms of cultivating the children’s skills during summer holiday and spare time the village organized many activities and programs with the support of international/local charitable entities and volunteers. On top of the summer activities was the Caritas Peace Camp, which calls for fraternal values among children from different backgrounds and religions. The camp took place last summer in Lebanon and lasted for twenty days, wherein the participants (100 children) were able to earn new friendships and to know more about cultures.

Additionally, last summer the village formed an Environmental Club in cooperation with the Royal Society for the Protection of the Marine, to be subsumed under existing environmental clubs at schools in Aqaba. This club aimed to increase environmental awareness among the members so that they in turn pass on the awareness they got to their colleagues at the village and schools, as well as to enable them to interact with their colleagues in other clubs to do the work with a positive impact on the marine environment through specific activities organized by this society.

As well, nine children of the age group 10 to 14 participated in the Forum of Peace and Arab Orphans that took place last spring with the participation of eight Arab countries. This forum included cultural and sports activities and visits to archaeological sites, wherein the children found the chance to mingle with fellows from different backgrounds too.

Last but not least was the Hussein Youth Camp that is carried out under the leadership of the General Directorate of Gendarmes Forces. Within this activity, the children received martial practices that included fitness, self-defence, handcrafting and awareness sessions in addition to field trips to experience the training materials on the ground. Other than the new skills earned as a result of this program, the children enhanced their sense of responsibility towards their country and gained new knowledge about the demands of the Jordan labour market.       

The SOS Youth Houses Aqaba and the former SOS youth

There are currently 18 youth living in two SOS youth houses after two children transferred from the village and nine left the youth houses to start their semi independent life. The resident youth are of the age range 14 to 18 and they all receive education at schools.

Due to economic and political developments in Jordan and Aqaba specifically, the board decided to build two separate youth houses (one for the boys and the other for the girls) on the premises of the unused land of Aqaba village, instead of continuing to pay increasing rental fees to landlords. Although the building of the two houses coasted quite a lot but it will be cost effective in the long run. At the same time it will keep the youth close to their SOS mothers, siblings and the place they grew in. The constructive work started last July and it is expected to finish next July.

Four out of nine who graduated from the youth house joined different vocations according to their scholastic vocational specializations. While three of them signed up in intensive training programs like nursing, secretary and cosmetology in collaboration with a local non-governmental organization that cares for Jordanian orphans, Al Aman Fund. As to the rest two young ladies, they got married and are currently expecting two babies.

It is worth mentioning that three girls became part of the General Security Forces (GSF)/ The Women Police Academy. The young ladies became active workers after undergoing a four-month training program to prepare them for working in different General Security directorates. Working with the GSF considering it a governmental entity ensured for its employees fixed income, social security, health insurance and most importantly the needed job security in light of the global economic crises.    

The SOS Children’s Village Nursery Aqaba

This year there were 187 seats taken at the nursery (14 for SOS children and 173 for children from the outside community). This current capacity is 43 seats over than the last year and was due to constructive changes, which were made to serve larger number of beneficiaries. As at the beginning of this year the board of SOS-Jordan decided to remodel the squash court of the village into a more efficient facility, which will function as both a multi-purpose centre and an extension to the nursery classrooms. Official opening of this centre will be at the beginning of 2010 to serve both the children and co-workers of the village, as well as those living in the surrounding community through hosting activities, workshops and trainings, while the two new classrooms where already opened by the beginning of the academic year 2009/2010.

Customarily the nursery celebrated the graduation of its seventeenth regiment last June. The ceremony took place under the patronage of the director of the Education Directorate for Aqaba city and included many songs and shows conducted by the graduates. During the performances the children reflected some of the skills that they learnt all through the last year at the kindergarten and they received gifts and certificates at the end of the ceremony.

At the end of this report I invite you to join our global campaign, SOS! Childhood, which was launched on the occasion of the SOS Children's Villages 60th anniversary. By visiting the campaign website you contribute to creating awareness that a safe and happy childhood is at risk.

Thank you for your support. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Fayez Heyari
Village director