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Group portrait of four children CV Skopje
Living standards have declined in Macedonia since independence in 1991. Discrimination makes growing up hard for children of Roma origin, while widespread poverty and high unemployment present problems for all. SOS Children's Villages have worked to help children from all backgrounds since 1995. … more about our charity work in Macedonia

Child Sponsorship Report 2009, from Skopje, Macedonia

Sponsored child from Skopje
Sponsored child from Skopje

A child sponsorship report from Skopje in Macedonia. Written in 2009.

Dear Sponsor,

Being in the pre-Christmas time of the year it is a pleasure to greet you again as our greatest supporters. Knowing that we can count on your commitment and support in the coming year it gives us encouragement, positive feelings for the future in providing a loving home for every child.

It is a great pleasure to share with you a number of the happenings of the year. It was quite a fruitful and busy year for all us, in the SOS Children’s Village Skopje, the SOS Youth Facility and the SOS Family strengthening programme.
   
At present the SOS Children’s Villages Macedonia is providing a loving home to 80 children living in the family based care programmes and 140 children through the support given to the families in the family strengthening programmes.

A lot of workshops, cultural and sport activities were organized in the village during the year and the children participated in numerous outdoor activities. The children regularly receive additional educative support, participate in the Children’s parliament and attend dance, English courses, football, basketball, karate lessons, depending on their interest and abilities.

The educational support by the village pedagogue and the external volunteers was regularly held to support the children in learning the lessons, writing the homework and achieving better results at school.

First day at school…

September was an important month for the school pupils but especially for the first graders. School was gladly welcomed by our first graders: Beshir, Dragana and Orhan. The first day at school is an important day in child’s life. Walking to school was less frightening for the youngest pupils at school, holding the SOS mother’s hand and knowing that she will be there to help them with the homework, to encourage them and to feel loved even if they don’t always have the greatest marks. The older SOS brothers and sisters wished them a successful beginning of school.

A step towards self –independence …..

September was a beginning of something new as well for our high school children, our youngsters. We had 8 new high school students: It was a new environment, new friends, teachers and subjects, yet adapted very quickly and felt satisfied attending the schools they have chosen. We hope that one day we shall have well known cooks, hairdressers, designers, making their own living and having their own loving home. 

High school students became new members of the SOS Youth facility. The SOS Youth facility is now a busy place now with 14 youngsters. Some of them felt a bit homesick, some confused but thanks to the programme for transfer, the support of the educators and the SOS mothers, the youngsters adjusted well in the new environment. Of course, the older youngsters in the Youth facility as real friends ‘are introducing’ them to the life of the SOS Youth facility.

Children’s idol visits the SOS Children’s Village Skopje…

Angel was so happy to meet his idol, the music star Aleksandar Belov who visited the village in February. He was a guest in Angel’s SOS house. Everybody asked Aleksandar to sing a song and he said that he would sing only if Angel accompanies him by playing the guitar. (he previously saw Angel playing the guitar at the performance prepared by our children for welcoming Belov). Angel was so excited to have the chance to play the guitar and sing with his idol; ‘I’ve watched him on TV and now I played the guitar and he sang in our house’.  It was his greatest dream coming true.

A message of love, respect conveyed through tradition and customs….

Angela was among the children to present the mask- Macedonian traditional wedding at the Carnival Herceg Novi in Montenegro in June. Our children were invited to be guests of a Children’s Home in Bijela in Montenegro and participate in the Carnival. The mask was presenting the traditional Macedonian wedding and children wore original Macedonian national costumes.

Angela was the bride getting married to Artan, her village friend. They followed the tradition-the groom and the svatovi (groom’s family) came to take her from her home accompanied by musicians playing live music and Angela presented gifts to the svatovi. Then all the children (guests at the wedding) started dancing the traditional dance ‘oro’ (oro is a line dance, people are holding their hands and dancing making three steps forward and one backward). They were singing the song ‘Macedonian girl’, a traditional song that describes the beauty of the Macedonian woman and comparing her to a flower.
The message conveyed is that the wedding represents joy, love and happiness. The children of the SOS Children’s Village Skopje wished people to love each other, respect their country and tradition and most important of all to respect all the other cultures and nations.

Celebrations...

Traditionally children’s creativity was shown at the manifestations Mother’s day and SOS Children’s Villages day.

Mother’s day was celebrated on 10 th of May. This year the Mother's Day was celebrated with a concert organized by the Women's association . The concert was humanitarian with the aim to support the SOS mothers on the occasion of the World’s Mother’s Day. The money from the tickets were intended for the further education of the SOS mothers such as attending language and computer courses.There was an exhibition of chidren’s drawings and poems.

Brenda  was really happy that she danced on a song at the humanitarian concert that took place in the Universal Hall, the largest hall in Macedonia. She was quite busy attending the rehaersals and even practicising at home. It was a performance dedicated to the SOS mothers, who take care of, bring up children and give them their love.

This is what Brenda’s SOS mother Milka says about her role as an SOS mother:
I am the happiest when I can meet all the needs of the children around me, especially what they lacked most, love, warmth, care. I try the best I can to provide everything they need. To ensure they have everything they didn't have.. I want each one of them to become somebody some day. I try my best to achieve this. I want them to be educated. I want to see them off from the village as good children, good young people so that we can continue helping each other for as long as my health serves me. I will never leave them. As long as I am alive I will never leave them or forget them. For me they are everything in these five years they have been in my care.

A celebration of 60 years of the opening of first village in the world was held in the SOS Children’s Village Skopje in June. A performance was prepared by our children and with the participation of the Macedonian representatives of this year’s Eurovision contest, the group Next Time. The children were proud to share the stage with the well known pop stars. The event had a fundraising character as children’s drawings and works of art were exhibited for sale.

Children debate on important issues in their Parliament and at workshops…

The Children’s Parliament is held once a month and its members are nominated by each SOS family. Each family nominates two representatives, one representative of the younger children and the other of the older ones. When in session children have a chance to learn about their rights but also to undertake obligations. They discuss their needs, interests and wishes, give creative solution to problems.

Education on child rights was an important topic for our children and the children from the Family strengthening programme, especially for the youngest ones. Some of the topics that were covered at workshops: my family, my friends and I; expressing feelings through non verbal communication and building social and communication skill; my rights as a child, identifying the types of abuse; etc.
We have continued with our work supporting the community Gazi Baba through the Family strengthening programme and started a new project in the Roma municipality Shuto Orizari in September. We have attended 140 children and supported their families to care for the children and not abandon them. Our aim is to make the families self-reliant and thus beside packages of products (hygienic products, food, medicine) they received counselling, social, educative and health support. Additional professional trainings have been provided for the care givers.

We feel very grateful to have you as part of our big SOS family. Your generous and continuous contribution helps us make our vision a reality, enables us to provide children with hope and opportunity for a better life.

On behalf of everyone at SOS Children’s Village Skopje I would like to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Yours sincerely,
 
Marija Papic
National Sponsorship Co-ordinator