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SOS Children's Villages has been working hard to improve the lot of orphaned children in Eastern Europe since the Seventies although it was only in the eighties that our first Village offered Family based care in the Czech Republic. Since then a large number have spread across Eastern Europe offering hope for... … more about our charity work in Europe

Child sponsorship Report 2009, from Borovljany, Belarus

Sponsored children from Borovljany
Sponsored children from Borovljany

A child sponsorship report from Borovljany in Belarus. Written in 2009.

Dear sponsor,

This year turned out very difficult both for the country and the people. The global financial crisis had an adverse effect on the economy. Numerous industrial companies scaled down their production activities. In order to avoid an increased unemployment, they reduced the number of working days per week and thus the wages of those employed. The Government record of unemployment rate is 2 percent but the real figure could be as much as 3 to 4 times bigger than that. Those affected do not usually seek an official unemployment status because the unemployment allowance doesn’t exceed an equivalent of 16 Euro.

In the course of 9 months this year, wages and salaries averaged a modest 1.6 percent increase - the inflation growth approximated 8 percent meanwhile. By the fall of 2009, Belarus recorded the second fastest growth of prices for consumer goods and foodstuffs in the whole of Europe. To make ends meet, ordinary citizens have to be very thrifty and economize on everything.

That’s why your support, dear Sponsor, is accepted with special gratitude and appreciation at this difficult time – even more so because it is meant for those not so fortunate – the orphaned children.

In the 14 families of the SOS-children’s village, there are 64 children including 51 of school and 14 of pre-school age. June through September, another 7 children have been admitted to the SOS-CV.

The 10-year old Sasha got rather exited learning that he would have to leave his state orphanage accommodation for some unknown SOS-village: the boy was afraid his living conditions will get worse in comparison with the present and asked a lot of uneasy questions of the accompanying SOS-mother :”What kind of village is it?”. However, a couple of days later, it was impossible to lure him out of the playing room – the boy didn’t ever see such a plenty of toys he was allowed to touch and play with! There was no doubt Sasha was very happy with his occupation in the village.

In summer, 25 children finished the 9-year basic school training and education. Such a high number of basic school leavers, as compared to the previous years, is the result of the national school system reform by shifting from 12 to 11-year overall school course. As a result, not everybody was able to get accommodated with the two SOS-youth facilities, 8 children stayed with their SOS-families.

Another school year has started and is well in progress. Most children cope with learning challenges successfully managing school curriculum and activities. Those experiencing difficulties get individual assistance by the SOS-CV pedagogical staff. A psychological counseling and therapy course was organized at the SOS-village for children with emotional problems. Those having speech problems are subject to individual and group counseling and treatment by respective specialists. Age-specific cognitive teaching is implemented to encourage and motivate the pre-school children’s thinking abilities. They learn painting and modeling with the clay as well.

19 children attend the local music school mastering piano, flute, cymbal and harmonica. Many actively go in for sports of different kind: judo, sambo, soccer, biking, volleyball etc. There are all necessary conditions for sports activities at the SOS-village too. The SOS-CV soccer team has won the City of Minsk soccer tournament in the 14 to 16-year age group. And we don’t regard it an accidental event! There is a soccer hobby group at the SOS-village with a dedicated person-in-charge, who not only coaches the boys as regards soccer, but also provides for their overall physical education and healthy way of life.

Special attention is dedicated to our teenagers, because the majority of the SOS-children belong into that category. We introduced a hobby activity for girls where they are advised how to take care of their appearances, which we consider very important for that age group. As a way to take care of children’s psychological and emotional health, an art-therapy studio was set up with the purpose of helping them to “splash out” their feelings by graphical means. A “skate-board school” is in the process of standing up.

Under the guidance of the social pedagogue, children continue to support elderly people from the neighborhoods– they take care of two old ladies 85 and 87 years old. Both women are glad to see the kids. The children help them around the house and in the garden. “ I  treat them like my own grandchildren. We are talking often and spend time making embroiders together”, said one of the women.

Summer vacation turned out to be a pleasant and useful time. In June, children were busy at the SOS-village. They took care of flower beds, helped out in the service yard and at the workshop. On July 10, everybody set off for rest and recreation. 10 children spent time at the international SOS-summer camp Caldonazzo in Italy. A group of elder children – 37 all in all – embarked on a raft journey on Berezina river. One could swim to his heart’s desire, enjoy sunset, fish and sit at the camp fire – unforgettable impressions for the kids!

On September 30, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy paid a visit to the SOS-children’s village. The VIP- guest was interested in how the SOS-project is being implemented in our country. He was fascinated with the little village folks who eagerly told him about themselves, showed pictures and even staged an improvised performance – in honor of the visiting guest, the little Maxim played a national folks tune on harmonica. The village soccer team received one load from him as a gift including many sport items for soccer trainings.

SOS-Youth Facilities

The two SOS-youth facilities accommodate 32 residents. In summer, four youths have left: Sergey and Yury are going to work according to the professional training received while at the same time studying by correspondence; Gennady and Alexander already started their working careers – as an employee at a milk processing plant and a truck driver respectively.

11 SOS-CV leavers moved to the YF. For the time being, most of them are enrolled in vocational training as carpenters, footwear assembly operators, post office employees etc. Three most successful SOS-children were able to enter higher education institutions. Three girls got married receiving heartily congratulations by the whole YF-community.

In June, everybody got busy improving the area around YF-premises. As unbelievable as it might appear, the youth facility #2 residents, quite on their own, managed to install the rain water drainage!

In July, the youths started one  bike tour and a river raft journey. The bikers traveled half the country and visited several picturesque places. Everybody had fun as well as quality rest and recreation. In August, most youths were able to get temporary employment thus acquiring valuable working skills and experience in their eventual future professional areas.

The new school (academic) year is well three months in progress. Not every first year student is good enough at coping with learning challenges. The YF-pedagogical staff maintains permanent contact with the youths’ professors to keep abreast of the events.

SOS Social Centre

Psychological counseling and support of dysfunctional families as well as summer camp rest & recreation activities, healthy way of life promotion were the principal activities in the second half of the year 2009.

But support of families with cancer affected children is considered to be a traditional service of the Social center.

The total number of those who asked for and received help and assistance of different kind from the SOS-SC since the time it was created to 7870!

It was possible to realize only due to your generous support, dear sponsor!

May this Christmas will be a delight to You! Stay healthy and happy!

Yours Sincerely,
Valery Mikhalevich,                

Director