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’s Villages Paraguay. The political ground has not changed significantly. In fact there is a feeling of disappointment among Paraguayans, who feel left 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 around the country, including those that provide service to many communities like the SOS Mother Child Clinics 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 leader 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 all around 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 Asunción continues supporting 138 children and adolescents living in 16 SOS families. Currently 61 are girls and 77 boys.
Since November we started the retirement process of 5 SOS mothers, after many years of service. Therefore in the following couple of months we will not be taking in new children, just until the process is finished. Then the welcoming of new children will be carried out as usual.
The children and adolescents took their final exams in late November and are now starting to enjoy the summer holidays. In general, most of them obtained good grades and brought home their report cards very proud. Others who struggle a bit more with their studies this year, therefore they will have to take the exams again in February. They are receiving some extra help as well from a teacher and their SOS mothers at home so they can be ready to pass to the next grade or course.
Besides providing primary and secondary education to children from the SOS village and the community, the SOS School contributes with other undertakings. For instance, this year they organized several workshops and capacity building classes on current issues. In this way, many children, youths and parents got familiar with prevention of diseases, especially respiratory diseases that increase every year and affect mainly to little children. Moreover, the students participated in projects carried out by the municipality. Some of them were the National Campaign to reforest Paraguay, the recycling project and the humus production Project. Other agreements of cooperation with the Health Ministry offered workshops on food processing to the students of secondary school. The program was titled ‘Healthy life’, and it has the objective to capacitate people in carrying a more healthy life through good nutrition.
Currently, we have 26 youths under the Semi Independent Housing program. They are assuming bigger responsibilities and doing good progress so far. One difficulty they have is finding opportunities to start their way in the labor market. Nevertheless, with the help of the Youth Care coworker they keep searching internships in companies and organizations according to their interests and skills acquired.
We give emphasis to providing assistance and guidance to all of our youths at the SOS village. We have a large number of youths, around 100 adolescents and youths from 12 to 18 years old. Therefore, groups like JOPANOVI (youths against violence) are promoted and supported. There the adolescents and youths get acquainted with human rights, civil rights and children’s rights among other things. They carry out activities that promote peace and fight against violence. Another group was the JQM (a national organization dealing with youths concerns for equal rights, education, recreation etc). Their objectives at the SOS village were to form a specific space for youths, were they could voice their opinions, socialize, do sports, and have fun. Everybody liked this very much.
Another workshop was organized by SENAD (National No-Drugs Department). It was about drugs and alcohol consume. They talked to adolescents about the risks and consequences and the ways to prevent the use of drugs.
The latest achievement concerning our work with youths has been to strengthen our network with other institutions who are also working with adolescents and youths. It has been possible to form a National Youth Platform supported by the vice Ministry of Youth in Paraguay. Through this platform, youths can canalize their concerns and petitions to the state. It has been indeed quite advancement in empowering youths to claim their rights and speak up.
Furthermore, the SOS village committee formed by the SOS mothers and the family management team (Youth care coworker, psychologists and social workers) worked this year to support the community after the retirement of the SOS village Director. In addition, the SOS mothers continue with training workshops developed at the SOS village and at the SOS training Centre Ñemity.
These days we are very glad to count with a new SOS village Director who will start to work with our community in January. He has been working at SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay for two years now and has a sound background on working with communities.
Moreover, in the same way we work in providing a home and a family to children and adolescents, we also work in managing the bond children maintain with their biological families. The best interest of the child is our primary concern. Some of them are in the process of returning to their families of origin, after a careful evaluation of different variables (if the family is able to take care of the child, if the child expresses a desire to go back to them etc). The SOS village continues monitoring their adjustment and progress for a certain period of time until the process is complete.
Among the highlighted events throughout the past 12 months we can mention the celebration of the SOS Children’s Village anniversary. This year we turned 26 years in June. There was at the SOS village a festive air and a lot of enthusiasm. We organized an event together with the SOS School. There were games, traditional food, and artistic presentations (dances and music).The party ended with handing out of presents to all the children and adolescents.
Then in August, we enjoyed a fun day of play, dancing and singing to celebrate Children’s day. In September, the youths too had their own opportunity to celebrate their day and welcome spring. They had as well a joyful party to which they invited several groups with which they work and many of the new friends they have made thanks to these groups’ activities.
Even more exciting than the celebrations was Soccer School for all the little boys at the SOS village this year. They participated in several championships these years, competing with other teams in the community and even from other neighborhoods. The youth group as well enjoyed sports meetings. They organized several tournaments where besides playing themselves, they allowed the small children to have their own category as well.
A great pride for the SOS children’s village was the participation of two of our children in the international world soccer championship SUB-12 in Italy. This was possible thanks to the Inter Milan Club Project, which started last year as a Soccer School for children in the area of Zeballos Cué. Our team obtained the fifth place and was very happy as the whole SOS village was upon their arrival to the country.
Finally, we would like to mention as well another SOS program working in Asunción. This is the Family Strengthening Program, which provides service through its Community outreach programs by establishing Child minding programs, community centers, and homes where parents in the target community can leave their children during the day and search for a job or capacitate themselves in order to find a job. In doing so, the families are not break up, and child abandonment is prevented. At the centers and homes the children receive early education and are provided with good nutrition and healthy habits. These days, the program provides direct service to 477 children from 0 to 6 years old, and 227 families in Asunción and its outskirts towns like Mariano Roque Alonso and Limpio. There are 13 homes opened and working.
Many workshops and meetings were developed all through the year, where the parents received information on health care, nutrition and parenting. Also, they covered topics such as children’s rights, women rights and personal development and achievement. The future goals for the program are to open one more community home and increase direct assistance to 35 more children. They are also constructing a Family Development Plan to improve the life quality of each beneficiary family of the program.
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!
Werner Mittler Alice Alemán Franco