Dear sponsors and friends,
We are getting close to the first decade of the XXI Century! Thirty eight years of SOS Children’s presence in Colombia and thirty eight years of Christmas greetings to you! Thank you very much for your support and your confident in our labour; nowadays, we are talking about 20 programmes along the country, including the strengthening of three programmes in Bogotá: One family-based child care programme as the SOS Children’s Village Bogotá and two family and community strengthening programmes as follows the Social Center New Life and Social Center Cazucá. These programmes continue improving their services for children wellbeing; children in SOS families and children in biological families. As well as many programmes have been consolidated, the 500th SOS Children’s Village in the world opens in Cali, Colombia!. Also a new strengthening programme springs out near the SOS Children’s Village Cali. Maybe, you and your friends have been sponsoring the building of these programmes and keep your support to 120 new girls and boys at the SOS Children’s Village and 163 girls and boys and 124 families participants of the Social Center “Las Minas” who could smile and be able to build their own worthy and happy live.
It’s a pleasure to report you about the progresses of our families in the Children’s Village Bogotá within the last six months:
During the second semester of this year we have welcomed 12 boys, girls and adolescents to our families in the Children’s Village in Bogotá. For some of them the adaptation went on very fast and we worried about a few others because of their age but however they integrated well too. Years before, most of the boys and girls came to the SOS Children’s Village reported by their relatives, other institutions but few by the ICBF (Colombian Institute of Family Welfare). The 12 we are talking about have been sent to the Children’s Village by the ICBF (the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare) and their family lawyers who are responsible for the protection and the legality of boys, girls and adolescents. Besides their SOS family protection, the representatives of the ICBF (family lawyers) regularly visit the children and monitor their progress.
The pedagogic team of the Children’s Village includes a psychologist, a social worker, an assistant director and youth leaders who constantly take care of the boys and girls and their SOS families and give them support in order to make the family approach possible, identify the daily problems to provide assistance for and show them best practice.
It is very important for us to point out to you that in order to consider the childrens’ best interest we will welcome a boy with visual disability who found himself in inadequate conditions and furthermore he is missing his biological siblings who have already belonged to a SOS family for several months. We feel confident that the reintegration will favour the development of the siblings.
Fun and education are always present!
Every year the Children’s Village celebrates a sports game called “Olympics” which is always a lot of fun for both children and adults. This year’s topic has been “former civilizations” presented by four teams (Romans, Egyptians, Moslems and Greeks) where boys, girls, adolescents, mothers, aunts and the pedagogic team took part with lots of enthusiasm, respect, laughter and fairness. With the help of a group of independent adolescents who contributed their knowledge and free time to coordinate the game, they organised the event which resulted in a football match between the youth group, the collaborators and the children who live in the SOS Children’s Village. A parade was done in the area around the SOS Children’s Village and in the neighbourhoods. Each team wore costumes pretending to be a historical person in accordance with the group. They were accompanied by a typical musical group called –Papayera (band that play Caribbean rhythms such as porro, fandango, merengue and puya...), the National Police band as well as the dancing group and Capoeira group. The whole community knew the most important topics about the former civilizations and represented them on four big walls painted by them.
Beside the games, the community has participated at several activities like family excursions to swimming pools or farms on the warm countryside, ecological hikes and visits to museums and other cultural places like municipal libraries and expositions. Those recreational times favour the family integration and the parting of new experiences. David wants to tell you something about an excursion where he participated: “We left the house very early in the morning, at about 7:00 a.m.; we went by the Village bus to a small town, two hours from Bogotá; Rodrigo and my aunt Cristina were telling us about cave art during the trip; they told us that there would be paintings stamped by our former indigenous (Muiscas) on big stones; I was exited and wanted to arrive faster to find those huge stones and my dream became true! Really they were the biggest that I have ever seen. Well, we began to walk under a strong sun that demanded us to drink a lot water to not be hydrated. We walked almost 40 minutes and… finally we arrived at the huge stones; Rodrigo narrated us about the cave art history meanwhile we were appreciating the native drawings on the stones and trying to interpretate their messages. We enjoyed a wonderful landscape looking far away on the flat field at a town called Pandí, Cundinamarca, where we finally took a bath in the pool, ate the lunch and had a very good time.
Another nice activity is taking care of the garden and redesigning the front of their houses. The boys, girls and adolescents enjoy those activities because the Children’s Village has been redesigned, almost 80% have been finished by now and therefore the young people feel useful when helping and are very motivated. They have built groups and each one of those works on an urban agricultural project. They have also revived and old and small territorial by sowing and growing vegetables like lettuce or parsley with the help of students from the University “Minuto de Dios” who study ecologic agriculture. They are working on this new project with great enthusiasm.
By and by the sports classes create great interest within the community and during the last year, football was the most outstanding sport as well as dancing and playing theatre. This year’s newest sport is Capoeira which is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, music, and dance and is now very common in the Children’s Village. Besides, the performers feel very enthusiastic about presenting what they have learned in public during an event at Christmas time. Martha comments: “I love this Capoeira school because we learn through dancing –martial art, values like respect toward others, discipline and perseverante to make exercises and movements taught by the teacher. I like the teacher because he is very serious and very exigent.”
Most of the young people combine their fitness and cultural activities with their studies and for that reason we do not disregard their academic education since we have taken an agreement with the teaching staff to combine their activities with their professional studies which is also very useful for students who start with secondary school in 2010. Among the stablished partnerships there are the following ones: Cidca, Inpahu, Unitec, Universidad de la Salle and Universidad Pedagógica, where 20 youth enjoy a discount in technological and professional careers.
Besides, we also pay attention to the work experience of the young people and therefore we made agreements with several companies to support young people in accordance to their job profile and competences. We have set up alliances with companies like Cooperativa Nacer, Activos y Humanos that have permitted to employ young people from youth communities and semi-independent girls and boys.
Family Strengthening Work in Conflict Zones
The Social Center Cazuca, located at the south of Bogota, 260 boys and girls, 160 in first infancy and 100 of second infancy, all of them together within their families participate in. After 8 years since it has been opened and working with communities in risk situation, most of them coming from the countryside because of the violence, this Social Center makes efforts toward childhood protection through actions developed in conflict zones.
The programme develops actions for family strengthening based on Childrens Rights approach, firstly to have a family. The first Saturday of each month, a member of each family takes part of a reunion in the Social Center Cazuca from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The reunions happen together with other families and the pedagogical leader that guides reflection, experience and workshops in favour of the family integration. Cases like the Maria¬ Elena are examples of the problems the Social Center is always in front of and must support daily. María Elena, a 46 years old woman, mother of 5 children, started to participate at the Programme in 2007, when she needed help for Nicolás, her 8 years old boy. Since then, Nicolás participates at the Social Center when he was not at school. Moreover, Maria Elena is integrated into the fund of visionary women to save monthly a small amount of money in order to strengthen her own business of preparation and sale of “rellena” –filled blood sausage. Fortunately, she was successful with her business during the nights after her arrival from her work where she worked as a cleaning lady in a hospital in the neighbourhood.
Until a couple of months, Maria had a calm life doing her role like a worker, letting Nicolas stay in the Social Center during the afternoon and receiving support from her oldest son Carlos in taking care of Nicolás at night meanwhile she was selling “rellenas” near her house on a public street. One night when she was arriving from work, she said “hi” to her children and tried to rest…some minutes have passed when her oldest son went out of the house to take a walk around the neighbourhood… later, sadness had overwhelmed her family… somebody took his son’s life. Maria wished to die but she understood that more children were depending on her and needed her protection and support. María did not know how to help Nicolás, who suffered a lot from the loss… he had promised his brother to win the micro-football championship in the neighbourhood but now he was not present to celebrate.
His mother asked for help to the Social Center and the pedagogical team committed with her and her family to overcome this grief. A hard work was done in every place where she and her family were; the most important thing was to be near her and make her mourning at least accompanied. The team also was close to Nicolás motivating him daily to continue living and to win the cup! In this way, the appointment of the first Saturday of October was the time to celebrate the Family Day and the final match of micro football where Nicolas’ team won the championship and he could walk with the cup on his hands and tears in his eyes...anyway, he fulfilled his promise to his brother of soul.
We are now getting ready for celebrating the Christmas festivities and sharing time, love and collaboration with the families. At the same time we express our gratitude for all yoursupport and help which are reflected in the hearts and smiles of our boys, girls, adolescents and youth people we listen to, treat well and give support therewith they can reach their goals.
Fabio Curtidor Argüello Ana Rubiela Haamón
Aldea Infantil SOS Bogotá Directora CS Cazucá