SOS Children’s Village Belén – December 2009
From a very sunny Paraguay we greet you once again very near to the end of the year. 2009 has been a year of many comings and goings both in the country and in SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay. The political ground has not changed significantly. In fact there is a feeling of disappointment among Paraguayans, who feel left down by broken promises. There are many unsolved conflicts, scandals in the government and corruption. Regarding the economic situation, SOS Children had to face some challenges as well. In the beginning of the year, all the programs, including those that provide service to many communities like the SOS Mother Child Clinic were in search of local allegiances and support in order to cope with the difficulties.
On the other hand, we can also find good in every crisis and emphasize a greater social commitment from both the private and public sectors. An instance of this has been the important donation the organization received from a leader telecommunications company, which raised funds through a social campaign. Also, another company donated one toy per child on Children’s Day. This drew big smiles all around the 6 SOS Children’s Villages.
It is thanks to displays of solidarity mentioned above and people like you that we can say that the SOS Children’s Belén continues supporting 12 SOS families, formed by 98 children and adolescents. This year we count with two youths under the Semi-Independent Housing Program, assuming bigger responsibilities and three youths who are already living completely independently. Most of our youths are getting ready to start university next year. Some already study careers like Agronomy, Hotel and Tourism business, and veterinary. Adolescents attend secondary School at institutions in Concepción (15 km away from Belén) or they go to schools that provide technical high School programs on agriculture, like the San Francisco School. There, a group of adolescents from the SOS village obtained a prize when representing their school at the international contests of technical schools. This particular School program is quite beneficial since when students finish it, they already count with a set production project prepared by themselves with the guidance of professionals in the fields of Agriculture and Hotel and Tourism business.
Next year, we have four kids from the SOS village that want to start at this School, so they are already studying for the entrance evaluation that is taken in order to begin the program. On the other hand, other youths chose to attend the Workshop School in Concepción where they receive training on construction, carpentry and other occupations. They do this along their basic schooling. This too is very significant for them since they are able to produce practical things, and seeing the results to their efforts has helped them to take on bigger challenges and develop a positive self-esteem.
The little ones attend a primary School located in Belén, only 2 km away from the SOS village. Now they have started their summer holiday which is why they are all quite happy and excited.
Among the most significant activities and events carried out throughout the past 12 months we can mention the celebration of mothers’ day, on May 15th. SOS mothers were honored with a big lunch with all the SOS families. All of them got presents and enjoyed various artistic presentations carried out by the children and adolescents.
Then, in June 23rd, we commemorated the anniversary of SOS Children’s Villages with a thanksgiving mass. We remembered the founder of SOS Children’s Villages and honor his work as well. The event counted with the participation of all the SOS families, the community and some local authorities, as well as with the SOS Mother Child Clinic coworkers and the SOS Agriculture School. After the mass, conducted by the bishop of Concepcion, we shared a traditional breakfast with cocido and chipa, and a then a colorful festival prepared by the children and adolescents.
In the second week of July, the winter holidays finally arrived for the children and adolescents who were eagerly counting the days on the calendar. During these free weeks from school, we implemented an activities’ plan with 45 adolescents from 13 to 19 years old. We held workshops where we provided information and practical activities to develop important human values and other skills. They also enjoyed of recreational activities and sports. The holidays ended with a nice day trip to the city of Horqueta. We could tell that the kids where very much entertained and they expressed how much they liked the talks, debates, and games where they felt free to express their opinions and socialize.
In August 16th, children’s day took place with a big celebration. The whole SOS village was decorated and the mood was set for a party filled with joy, games and candies. Then in September, youths welcomed spring organizing a barbecue with music, enthusiasm, rhythm and dynamism which characterizes them.
Concerning the artistic activities, we can mention 4 youths who form part of the Sonidos de mi Tierra musical group in Concepción. This group belongs to a larger group formed by musicians from all over the country. They present their music at various festivals, schools and sometimes even at internationally settings.
Another initiative we want to share with you is that of 6 youths who set on a new community vegetable garden, with several patches where they grow tomatoes, lettuce, beet, chard, corn, beans, pumpkin, and manioc among others. They take turns and distribute the work to take care of the garden. They are obtaining good products which they commercialize within the community. This small business has other benefits besides the financial ones because as more youths become involved with the undertaking, the co workers and SOS mothers also get involved to support and guide them, so bonds are strengthened among them.
This year we have formed different groups of co workers to effectively provide support to the SOS mothers in their tasks as well as to undertake outreach activities for the community in Belén. One group that takes on the responsibility of working on family strengthening strategies and on capacity building of families within the area of Belén as to prevent child abandonment or to assist in the transition of children returning to their families of origin (if it is possible and if they express their wish to do it). The best interest of the child is our primary concern. In addition, another group takes care of recreational activities and a last one of raising funds for the community in the surroundings areas of the SOS village. This new approach to extent our service and reach out to the community it is very positive not only for the SOS families and other families in Belén but for all the work staff since we have being able to strengthen values such as solidarity, optimism, respect as well as leadership and team work abilities.
As it has been mentioned above, there were some difficulties for the SOS Mother Child Clinic due to the global financial problems. Nevertheless, these difficulties turned out to prompt significant advancement. Many allegiances and agreements of cooperation with the State and the Health Ministry were possible. This allowed returning many job positions to co-workers; the clinic got funds to ensure the free service and the amount of beneficiaries of the service increased, exceeding expectations. The number of births, consultations and admissions grew as well as the general interest of the community in receiving medical attention and ensuring their children’s health.
The SOS Agriculture Technical Center counts with 20 graduates this year, and a total of 96 graduates since its inauguration. Since the department of Concepcion, where Belén is located, is highly agricultural, this formation provided by the SOS centre gives graduates the skills and abilities to strongly compete in the field of Agriculture. Besides the development of the institutional educational program as every year, the centre carried out other community projects like the one developed with 10 families residing in the nearby area. They trained them to run a vegetable garden and in this way supply themselves with basic products.
The center’s technical unit of production on its part also raises funds by producing milk, meat, vegetables, agriculture products and others. We count with financial incomes for animals’ sales and other products used in agriculture, which altogether guarantee the center’s services provision. Additionally, the incorporation of the centre to the Federation of Agriculture schools and Private Formation Centers in Paraguay has made possible to count with an annual subsidy. Overall, the center works with more than 30 organizations and rural committees from the cities of Concepción, San Pedro and Caaguazú.
Dear friend, we have reached the end of our annual report and we hope that we have achieved our attempt and through these words we have been able to transmit some of the joy of many events. In this way you can feel part of them too. Without a doubt we can say that in spite of having some setbacks common to the field of social work in general, the values of SOS Children’s Villages of audacity, commitment, responsibility and liability persist in our work with the families, coworkers and you sponsors, who with effort and kindness continue supporting the ideal that every child is entitled to a family.
We thank you in name of SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay, the SOS families and every co-worker for your constant support and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Hopefully 2010 brings blessings, happiness, love and peace to your lives and families!
SOS Children’s Village Belén