Dear Child Sponsors,
Christmas is here and there's merriment everywhere, especially in your countries. It’s time for us-SOS Children’s Village Ben Tre to share with you, the ones who make our affair possible this short summary of the year 2009 that is about to pass.
Sweet home to miss from distance
During the year, 12 boys and girls are back to their relatives. Although the departures provoke the sadness of bidding farewell between the mothers and their children, it’s glad to see them being among their biological relatives who become more able to afford their living. Last September, 14 boys and girls passed the entrance exam to a university and colleges and technical schools far away from home. When they go to another city for learning or living independently, or even when they no longer belong to the Village, the youths tried to stay in touch with their SOS-mothers and SOS-families amid work and school pressure. As a result, youths’ learning situation, school reports, present living condition and problems to overcome are updated very naturally as it always goes in a normal family. All mothers and coworkers take much interest in following their steps because we are a big family.
It’s a stroke of exhilaration that we shall celebrate our 10th jubilee this year end, at the same time we will be granted the Labour Medal by the Government for our achievement during the ten years. A ceremony will be hold and it will be a time for all the children (both home and far away), mothers, staff to attend a reunion where they make merry in this common birthday party.
SOS – family in Bến Tre is getting bigger and bigger, now it’s home for 126 children and youths. The number of children in each SOS family is from six to ten. We try to ensure that one more child enjoys life in the SOS family as soon as a child becomes independent although it may be a little tricky when needy children aren’t available right on hand. SOS-mothers take great interest in ensuring the daily diet, especially in improving the quality of meals in SOS family with the limited expense for food stuff. The SOS mothers have found happiness from the children they bring up. So far, many mothers have provided care up to twelve children.
The focus of children education is always on their schooling. All the children have to give special attention to schoolwork and they do perceive how essential it is to their future life. They have been given favorable conditions to maximize their ability. Most of them have made efforts and had good achievements. 9 more students this year won Odon Vallet Scholarship, 4 among them have been granted for many consecutive years. Children in the final year of their junior and senior secondary level have been given special coaching to make sure that they could pass the graduation exams. However, around 2% of the children have made poor show at school and they are almost incapable of making a progress despite intensive tutoring. These children have to review lessons during the summer holiday to sit again for the summer examinations.
This academic year, 14/17 youths graduate high school after a tough exam and follow their chosen major in university, colleges and technical schools while the 3 failures learn a trade or make ready to retake the next exam. Up to now, we have 29 children follow post-highschool education and 5 others lead their semi-independent life with a stable job.
Apart from school time, our children have many opportunities of getting involved in ‘aptitude clubs’ organized at the villages. These clubs are music (singing, instruments), drawing, household skills (cooking, flower arrangement), sports (football, badminton, table tennis, chess, swimming), informatics and English. The non-academic ones are held only in summertime. Many boys won high prizes in the national sports contest among schools.
Activities at the Village in different occasions become more scientifically and systematically organized. We have gradually involved senior children in organizing phase so that they can promote their confidence and creativity. Clubs of children of different age groups are the places where they can freely express, question and be satisfied. The clubs’ children themselves carry out several annual social activities extending to outside community.
As you many know, boys at 14 and upper have to accommodate at the Youth House. At the moment, 26 village youth lead their life there together with 14 boys from poor families in the local community granted SOS scholarships. All the teenagers obey serious regulations. Teenager education is the most important so they are encouraged and checked strictly by educators. Just a few boys losing their interest in study have been given intensive coaching immediately.
Teenagers pay great attention to physical education. Sports activities such as football, badminton, and chess at youth houses are organized regularly. After school time they are involved in taking care of gardens and cleaning houses. They also grow vegetable to improve their meals and saved family budgets.
It’s a good outcome that our children can have a friendly environment, a family, a home, a parent, education and personal growth, siblings and a feeling of being rooted in a community, as well as happy moments. That's what SOS Children's Villages wants for every child.
A story of our first child
We officially started our activities in December 1999 but in fact we received our first child 9 months before. Although we try not to make a fuss over a special case, the first tends to be the most memorable.
The first child to come to our half-constructed village was a 2-month-old baby girl who was absolutely malnourished and ill-looking. She was in a condition often seen of an abandoned child. However, she could grow a strong eagerness among the village members, especially SOS-mothers who never before in their life be a mother. Every mother wanted to adopt her and none of them made concession. Finally they had to draw lots to have the right. Of course the chosen mother was the happiest but she wasn’t the only one who take care of the only baby of the village at that time. Soon the other mothers received their children but they often talk about the case in gatherings.
The sickly baby girl rapidly became healthy and chubby, she developed well and drew our attention by her sweet and smart manner. By the time she started school, the girl could read all things in a magazine and she could do simple calculation! Year by year, she keeps her excellent performance at school and at the village. Being admitted into the village when she was newly born, being brought up with the development of the village, the ten-year-old girl is considered our ‘product’, she will to give her feelings being brought up here in the 10th jubilee ceremony. By this time she has finished her speech!
Dear friends, we couldn’t find a more appropriate moment to pass along a very warm thank you to each and every one of you that took the time and trouble to finance us, to send us and your sponsored children e-mails and letters with your advice, praise, suggestions and words of support. It means a lot to us that people have trusted our mission over the course of ten years. Celebrate the joys of this wonderful spirit of Christmas and have fun with your friends, family and loved ones.
A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010!
Huỳnh Công Bình
SOS Children’s Village Bến Tre