Update report from May 2009
Dear sponsors and friends:
We want to share with you again some news from our SOS Children’s Village in Concepción. At present we take care of about 113 children in the village and 19 young people in the Youth Programme.
Immediately at the beginning of our letter we want to remember last Christmas because it is probably the most important time of year in the life of a child. Certainly, we were visited by Santa Claus, who this time came surprisingly not on a sleigh or a cart as he used to do before in our village, but on a new pick up truck full of presents for everyone. The surprise and then the happiness were big, when he sounded the horn at midnight in the gate of our village and invited us out.
During the first two months, our families visited different places of our region and spent there their summer holidays. One family went to the small town Purén, which is in the Cost Mountains southerly from Concepción and very close to a big lake with warm water and long sand beaches, called Lanalhue. The children and their mother enjoyed every afternoon of their stay on the beach. This was the only way to ride out the extremely hot summer we had this year. The south of our country is generally very nice, rich on vegetation, has many clear rivers and lakes and high mountains. In addition, some children could spend some days with their biological families and tighten ties with them.
During March, the children and youngsters started again with school, this time with a commitment to study more and to improve their school performance. We have a big help this year in this sense. Yasna, a daughter of our village, who is history teacher now, came recently back from the south of the country. She organised a workshop for children that have learning difficulties. Together with some mothers, every afternoon she helps the children to do their home works and to reinforce their knowledge.
The clime has changed very much in the last time. The rain period, which is characteristic for our autumn and winter, came this year at the end of April – later than usually. The peasants worried about the lack of water, but the children won more days for playing on fresh air. Now, however, it is raining very much, the days are short and every family finds its own way for indoor entertainment. From time to time, the mothers have a delicious surprise for the children. It is a very typical plate for Chilean winter and is called sopaipillas - a kind of hot donuts that can be served sweet with honey or marmalade or in a salty version with a spicy sauce. Cold rain and sopaipillas make a good team.
We celebrated the Mother’s Day on a community afternoon, where our folklore group called Pertrin chiqui che, which in the language of our native people Mapuches means small people from the village, presented new dances from the north and south of our country.
Five of our young people started a totally new way of living for them. They live for the first time in the life without a daily supervision of an adult. We rented a department not far from the village. They have to take care for everything in their household: cook, tidy up, go shopping, wash their clothes and do all duties that mean having a proper house. All of them study at the university or at an institute and are in only one step from leaving the village and starting their independent life. So they learn this way how to resolve daily problems and prepare for the future.
Our family strengthening programme has in our city two modalities (nursery and nursery school). It supports families and single working mothers and helps to avoid the child abandonment this way. Our aim is to help them to break the poverty circle and therefore we organise trainings, workshops of positive child care and try to insert them in the labour world. We work with many families and every one has its own story, several of them fill us with proud. Today we want to share with you Gabriela’s and her family’s story.
Gabriela gets up every day at 6 o’clock and crosses by the first bus the town to the house of her parents. There, she takes her children José Pedro (3 years) and María Jesús (11 months) and brings them to our centre. They are the smallest of her five children and have to spend the night at grandparent’s because Gabriela begun her own work project. With help of the municipality, some friends and our counselling, but especially with her own big courage, she opened some months ago her own pub restaurant and works there long hours until late in the night. She tries to forget two frustrated marriages, but is able to start from the beginning and take care of her children. It is not easy neither for her nor for her children. Especially after her second separation, because the small José Pedro stood very close to his father and suffered an important depression in his development. In addition, he demonstrates some characteristics of Asperger syndrome, a disorder that causes significant difficulties in social interaction. He was discriminated before in several nursery schools.
We do not have specialists that know how to treat children with this syndrome, but we did our best and try to incorporate him in a normal daily routine of our nursery schools. Actually, we could arrange a meeting with a neurologist who examined José Pedro meticulously and taught us how to work with him and make that way for Gabriela her hard work a little easier.
Dear sponsors and friends, we hope that these lines have helped you to imagine a little better the life in our SOS village, which is, as you can see, full of happy but also difficult moments. Thank you very much for your letters and presents for our children and specially for your permanent help and support.
Kind regard from distance,
Jessica Lange Ossa
Director SOS Children’s village Concepción