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Official opening of SOS Children's 500th Village in Colombia

The SOS Children's Village Cali in Colombia was officially inaugurated on 24 March 2010 by Helmut Kutin, President of SOS Children's Villages. It was a colourful fiesta attended by numerous guests from the world of politics and international organizations, as well as people from the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Helmut Kutin with boys and girls, people and buildings in the background - CV CaliThe new SOS Children's Village Cali was built in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Cali, the Barrio Prado del Sur. It consists of 14 family houses for over 120 children who will now live in a family and enjoy the love and support of a caring SOS mother.

The official opening ceremony was attended by many distinguished guests, but the greatest number of people that attended the ceremony were from the village itself, SOS mothers and aunts, the children of the village, and the SOS co-workers who had long before started to organize this celebration the warm city of Santiago de Cali.

In his speech, Helmut Kutin encouraged all guests to continue their support of the programmes of SOS Children's Villages Colombia, and to do it as committed SOS friends. Bjorn Bogason expressed his pleasure at being given the opportunity to participate in the inauguration of the 500th SOS Children's Village in the world. He ended his speech by presenting the children of the village with a beautiful collection of the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen.  Speaking on behalf of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, Mr.John Arley Murillo thanked the board members of SOS Children's Villages Colombia and all guests for contributing to the improvement of living conditions for all the children who will live in the village.

After the ceremony, the guests were invited to visit the village premises with the children, who, guided the visitors all around the village with the cheerfulness that is so typical of the region. The kids performed a row local tunes and dances and said a few words of thanks to the guests, but the most important thing for them was to show off their village, which they did by simply taking the hands of the guests and whisking them off to explore every nook and cranny.

Among the distinguished guests who were treated to this unique tour were the First Lady of the Department of the Cauca Valley, Andrea Solis Montealegre; the Secretary of Social Development, Dr. Luz Helena Alcazar, John Arley Murillo the Regional Director of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare and Aage Lærdal, President of the Lærdal Foundation.Aside from Helmut Kutin and Bjorn Bogason, SOS Children's Villages was represented by the Continental Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Heinrich Muller and the Regional Director for South America, Walter Cadima. Local representatives of the organization were the President of SOS Children's Villages Colombia, René Hernandez Toro; the National Director, Alvaro Acevedo, and Alberto Lema, who will be the director of the new SOS Children's Village Cali.