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 Paraguay . The political ground has not changed significantly. In fact there is a feeling of disappointment among Paraguayans, who feel let down by broken promises. There are many unsolved conflicts, scandals in the government and corruption. Regarding the economic situation, SOS Children’s Villages 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 leading 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 around all 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 Village Hohenau is ending the year with many accomplishments and new strength found. Our community continues developing as part of a constant cycle. As we can see youths moving towards independence, we can also see the starting stage in many little children. After 39 years of work, we have come to form 17 SOS families, with 132 children and adolescents. This year 10 new children have been taken in. This meant an adjustment process for the families and the children themselves. It is nice to mention that with each new addition to the community, new daily dynamics, friendships and joys are formed. With the same spirit of providing family care to children, we work in helping children to return to their families of origin, if they are able to take care of them and if it is the child’s wish. The best interest of the child is a key concern and his/her feelings as well as rights are respected. During the whole process the children receive visits from co-workers specialized in the area to monitor their progress and re-adjustment process, at least over a certain period of time until the process is complete.
Concerning education, we can mention that 6 youths have finished their last year of high School in late November. They are preparing themselves to start university these days. Four youths are finishing university and other technical training. Some of them are even starting to experiment the labor market through some internships and practices. There is a lot of support among youths and from the Youth care co-worker. They look for internships and other opportunities through programs such as one called My First Job. They also share study materials, experiences and are always concern about each other’s progress. In total, 41 youths are part of what we call Semi-Independent Housing Program, and they are beginning the path of adulthood assuming bigger responsibilities and progressing.
Among the activities and events carried out throughout the year we can mention the following:
• A new dance group and workshop started in January. Little girls of 4 to 8 years old attend the Pre-Ballet Class and 14 girls older than 8 years old attend a more advanced class. In total 27 girls and 10 boys make up the SOS children’s village dance group. The children have travelled to several cities around the country for festivals and competitions. Thanks to donations they have been able to wear new costumes in their presentations.
• 40 boys and girls started their musical formation and took part of the Philharmonic Beginners Orchestra of the United Colonies. These beginner musicians have participated in many seminars and concerts where they shared some time with professional musicians. This was for them a great motivation to continue working hard and become excellent professionals someday too. In addition, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the United Colonies, with advanced and experienced musicians, counts with 6 youths from the SOS village. They went to many national and international festivals and competitions too. The main one was the 9th Meeting of Philharmonic Orchestras carried out in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a total success, and in the closing ceremony, they got the chance to play at the famous stadium called Luna Park.
• In June, the SOS Children’s Villages Anniversary was celebrated with great excitement. The community shared traditional food prepared by the SOS mothers, the youths and the entire work team at the SOS village. The Ballet and the Orchestra also contributed with the show. We counted with the presence of governors from nearby cities and towns. The SOS Children’s Village Board director was present too as well as the three original members of the board, who found the SOS village, after a long time, quite grown and equally joyful.
• On Children’s Day, in August, there were celebrations and parties organized by schools and the local church in Hohenau. Absolutely all the children made sure not to miss one of them. They were also invited for a day of fun and play by the Bella Vista city Governor. The neighbor communities including the SOS village were able to enjoy a great day that ended with presents and a clown’s show.
• In September, 34 youths put together their special event as well to celebrate Youth day and to welcome spring. They developed activities of their interest such as karaoke, dancing, sports, games and even discussions and debate where they could voice their opinions on issues concerning them. It was nice for them to have their own space to celebrate and count with the support of co-workers and their families to express their views and interests.
• Then, some children participated in the Special Olympics that take place every year in the city. They obtained gold medals, which they brought home with great pride. Carmen, Valentina, Marina and Venancio were extremely happy and filled with accomplishment for several weeks after and this could be seen every time they shared their experiences with their siblings, SOS mothers and all the specialists who assist them on a daily basis.
• 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 training of SOS mothers and Aunts went along as normal at the SOS Children’s Village Hohenau. Several topics were issued by the SOS mothers themselves. Themes that most concern them like self-esteem, handling stress, children’ rights, early stimulation to children, balancing emotions etc. The family based care and family strengthening management team received training on Children’s Rights, Family strengthening programs, learning, psychological and emotional disorders and other ailments. This team was formed this year and it includes three professional co-workers. They are part of a new strategy to strengthen support to the SOS mothers in providing proper care to their children, and in accompanying the process of strengthening the capacity of Families of origin in the community to care for their children as to prevent abandonment.
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 Hohenau