Dear Friends and Child Sponsors,
The year 2009 is a year that is very significant to SOS Children’s Villages – it is a year of double celebrations for the Organization. 2009 marks 60 years since the first SOS Family was established in a small town called Imst in Austria by Dr. Hermann Gmeiner, the Founder of SOS Children’s Villages. Whilst celebrating this great occasion, it is also a very important landmark for us, the local Organization – the SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka. This year it is 30 years since this vision, Dr. Hermann Gmeiner had – that children need a sustainable family network if they are to grow up as healthy individuals in every respect- travelled to Sri Lanka. Many of you have been with us for a quite a number of years of these past 30 years. Your financial commitment towards our work has helped us to serve 1385 children and youth in the family based care in the five SOS Children’s Villages and over-2,100 children, youth and adults in the Family Strengthening programmes in Sri Lanka.
On behalf of children, mothers, co-workers and on my personal behalf, let me thank you for being with us to support our work for the children and keeping the light of hope burning in the lives of children in the SOS families at SOS Children’s Village Nuwara Eliya as well as in the Family Strengthening Programmes that we are carrying out in the neighbouring communities. Happy childhood - is the right of every child. With your continued support for our work, you have ensured that 366 children and youth who are cared in all the SOS Projects at SOS Children’s Village, Nuwara Eliya. Thank you.
SOS Children’s Village: Six girls and 16 boys found a new home and a family at SOS Children's Village Nuwara Eliya. At present a total of 88 children are provided care in 10 SOS Families. All of them except for 2 very young children, the rest are schooling. Children, mothers and co-workers join in celebrating all the important national festivals as well as the religious festivals. This helps the young children to enrich their knowledge about the traditions and values such festivals uphold. In August this year, the SOS Family lost one of their former SOS Mothers – Ms. Sandanam Vijayalakshmy after a brief illness. Ms. Vijayalakshmy retired from active service in March 2008 and was residing at the SOS Mothers’ Retirement Home. During her active service she had nurtured 29 sons and daughters and most of them are now married and have their own families. It was very heart warming to see, all her children, except for one daughter who is currently living abroad, assembling at SOS Children’s Village Nuwara Eliya to say their final farewell to their “Mother” who was ready to accept them into her family when they lost their own family. Though they are adults now and were there with their own families, still they were not shy to show their emotion, the sadness they were feeling. Chandri – the first SOS child Ms. Vijayalakshmy welcomed into her SOS Family, said “ I was too young to know how it would feel to loose your mother when I lost my biological mother, but now I am big and I just cannot bear the sadness I am feeling at the lost of my SOS Mother” – May her soul rest in peace/
SOS nursery: SOS Children’s Village Nuwara Eliya continues to serve the children in their neighbouring community as well. 68 children attend the SOS nursery. All activities at the nursery are focused on developing the personality of the young children attending the nursery. In addition to celebrating the national and religious festivals, the children are participating in the annual concert and also the annual sports meet. The co-operation we receive from the parents of the children in organizing these special activities is very much appreciated.
The Family Strengthening Programme – helping children in need, in the neighbouring community – has made a significant mark – in the lives of the young beneficiaries. Being able to continue their schooling and having a square meal every day means a lot for these young children. Currently 296 children and youth are enrolled in this programme. The caregivers of these children (parents and adults of the beneficiary families), are also provided with awareness programmes and self employment programmes. As adults they too need to be guided and assisted to be responsible for their own family. Young children are provided assistance to continue their education, whilst youth and adults are helped to learn a trade so that they could earn a living. The children were encouraged to form Children’s Clubs. They are involved in engaging in small scale activities such as cleaning public areas of their neighbourhood to prevent the breading of flies and mosquitoes, taking part in religious activities – meditation programmes. This would help them to understand as to how they could get-together to help others. They also get together to present a session of sing-song from time to time where they are able to cultivate their creative talents.
SOS Youth Facilities: 17 girls and 23 boys are being provided for in the SOS Youth Facilities for Girls and Boys at SOS Children’s Village Nuwara Eliya. 25 of them are schooling whilst the rest are following vocational training/employment training. The youth together with the officials of the Blood Bank of the Base Hospital Nuwara Eliya organized a Blood Donation Camp. The hospital authorities were very impressed with the organizational skills of the youth and they did appreciate their efforts. These youths, though they are resident in the SOS Youth Facilities, they continue to belong to their SOS Families. Hence they continue their relationship with their families even though they physically do not live in the SOS Family house. 11 youth found employment during this year.
2009 is also very significant for our country – the civil unrest that has been in our country came to an end. SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka was able to set up a SOS Temporary Care Centre in the Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDP) in the north of the country. 4 Dormitories – 2 for girls and 2 for boys, a kitchen and an administrative building comprises this project. As of mid October 2009, 217 girls and boys of various age groups who need care were brought home to the Centre. These children and youth were either orphans or the parents and family were separated in the chaos of activities that took place during the latter stages of the civil war in the north of Sri Lanka. We were able to reunite 15 children with their biological/extended families whilst five youth who were over 18 were admitted to follow vocational training at Don Bosco Technical Institute, Jaffna. 197 children are resident. At present more attention is given to help the children with trauma therapy and provide security, especially for girl child. The temporary school set up in the IDP Camp does not have sufficient space for all the children to attend school at the same time. Therefore young children attend school during the morning hours and the older children in the afternoon. When they are not attending school they are in the tuition classes held in the SOS Premises. Efforts are made to find their families and reunite them. At a later stage if we are unable to locate their families, such children would be continued to care for in one of the SOS Children’s Villages.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, we do very much appreciate your continued commitment to support our work for the children of our country and are very proud of you. Let’s continue to work together to ensure that many more children in our country would have a happy childhood and live with love and security at all times.