We send you our warmest regards from the SOS Children´s Village Luján! In this opportunity, we would like to share with you the activities and experiences we have had throughout 2009. We are deeply grateful to you for your generous, unconditional support, which helps us to provide care and support for children who have lost, or who are at risk of losing, the care of their biological family, as well as giving them the chance to develop and enjoy growing up in a healthy environment, experience a feeling of security, love and respect and receive a good education according to their individual talents and abilities. This can be accomplished through family strengthening programmes or within an SOS-family. Family strengthening programmes aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family of origin. We empower families, to strengthen their capacity to protect and care for their children, and strengthen safety nets for vulnerable children and their families within the community. In cases where children have lost the care of their family of origin, we provide family-based care within our SOS Children’s Villages. Thanks to your support SOS Children’s Villages Argentina is nowadays helping more than 1800 children around the country through four family-based care programmes, twelve family strengthening programmes, two SOS Nurseries and one SOS-School.
The Children´s Village Luján has had a wonderful year, with plenty of new challenges. This year, more boys and girls have arrived and enlarged our family, further strengthening our community. This month we are looking forward to inaugurating an additional family house as well as to the arrival of more boys and girls. This will mean completing the 10 SOS families living in SOS Children´s Village Luján, where 6 SOS mothers and 8 SOS aunts devote themselves daily with love and care to the 72 boys and girls under their care.
The beginning of school was very satisfactory, paving the way for many positive changes and a lot of progress in the boys and girls´ marks by the end of the year, all of which has been achieved also thanks to the efforts and commitment on the part of the SOS mothers and aunts. Boys and girls who met with difficulties during the year had the support of psychopedagogists, psychologists and speech therapists, and were able to make successful progress. Children who could not successfully perform comprehension and rationalization exercises before are now ending the school year having made great progress. We are so proud of them!
For Mother´s Day we organized a special event, called “a relaxing day”, in which SOS mothers, SOS aunts and community mothers gathered to relax, enjoy a lovely meal and then have a beauty treatment with the help of a group of hairdressers. They were so happy, they could not believe they were the object of so much pampering. This was a beautiful way of telling them: thank you for your devotion to the boys, girls and youths!
To celebrate the first day of spring, we had a picnic and outdoor activities, thus sharing lunch all together. We did the same on Children´s Day; there were clowns, games, drama classes, choripaneada (typical barbecued sausage in bread) and ice cream. It was really moving to see the children’s happiness lighting their faces.
In October, some village girls and boys took part in an activity called “painting with famous artists”, through which they could paint beautiful canvasses next to outstanding Argentine artists.
We have also been visited by a group of young people from a school in Villa del Parque (a town in the Buenos Aires province) on a regular basis. They come once a month and spend the weekend, organizing activities for the children, and in turn learning themselves the values of cooperation, integration, comradeship and living in harmony with each other. It is also a great way to stimulate creativity in play activities.
Throughout the year we have celebrated the boys and girls´ birthdays and there was a sleepover party for the youngest girls in the multi-purpose room. This activity was suggested and directed by the physical education teacher.
Currently the boys, girls and youths are taking Arab dance lessons (in which they are preparing an end-of-year presentation), as well as salsa and merengue dancing lessons. They also participate in weekly physical education sessions as well as other activities such as swimming, soccer, and drawing.
Our community is currently being trained in different areas; in the psychological area, the following aspects have been worked on: risk behaviour, adolescence and sexuality. On the other hand, Argentine Red Cross staff has given a workshop on home accident prevention and first aids. A drama and clown group from Buenos Aires organized a class on expression and the communication of emotions. Additionally, we have had the ongoing support of the psychologist in the SOS Children’s Village.
On occasion of the international day of children´s rights, we had a reflection exercise in the SOS Children’s Village called “children´s rights from the children´s point of view”, in which story books on this issue were handed out, and the families worked on them and then expressed themselves in different free, creative ways, such as by means of new short stories the families invented, puppets and drawings, which were photographed and later displayed in the multi-purpose room.
Finally, this year we have been visited for the first time by some of the children’s sponsors, who have filled us with joy and love, and have given the children the satisfaction of knowing that in different parts of the world there are generous people who think of them and are present. This experience has been very positive and we hope to be able to welcome even more sponsors during 2010.
Family Strengthening Programme
Now that 2009 is ending, we can tell you that around 100 boys and girls from the neighbourhoods of Villa del Parque and Zapiola (nearby SOS Children´s Village Luján´s location) have taken part in the Family Strengthening and Community Development Programme.
The ‘Aprender a Volar’ (Learn to Fly) SOS Community Centre has celebrated its first year last August, and such month also brought about a big change: it was necessary to move to another physical space where we could help boys, girls and their families during the whole day, which was not possible in the previous space. Thus we found a new place and the family committee carried out the move and made the necessary adjustments to the space, such as flooring, painting, etc. Nowadays everybody is really happy with this place, since even though it is a bit smaller, the families´ active participation in the move has strengthened them as a group. In the afternoons, at the SOS Community Centre there are also school levelling classes provided by the community mother Lorena and a teacher.
In June 2009 we opened the SOS Community Home ‘Principitos y Princesitas’ (Little Princes and Princesses), where nowadays 20 boys and girls receive the care of community mothers Olga, Silvina and Alejandra. They are very creative and love to do activities with recyclable materials. The family committee was very recently formed and its first tasks were to take part in the house repairs and to organize a beautiful Children´s Day celebration.
We are currently organizing and searching for an adequate space to open a new SOS Community Centre in the Ameghino neighbourhood, where there is a great number of boys and girls that require our care.
Throughout this year, community mothers have had training on children´s rights, daily routine, children´s development, accident prevention, techniques on how to measure children´s psychomotor development, etc. twice a month. We are currently developing training on boys and girls´ rights, with the support of a group of students of the Social Work course of studies at the National University of Luján.
Throughout the year, a short story reading workshop has also been going on among community mothers as part of the project ‘Había una vez… Leer también es un derecho’ (Once upon a time… Reading is also a right).
This year we have been able to apply a method to measure children´s psychomotor development. This constitutes a great achievement, since by means of this method community mothers and the family strengthening area´s collaborators now have the chance to follow up the development of the boys and girls in their charge in a practical, friendly and accurate way and to quickly detect cases that call for a more specific intervention aiming at stimulating the development of that particular child.
Work with the community´s women this year has focused on promoting their health care and attention by means of the project called ‘Promoción de prácticas saludables’ (Promotion of healthy practices). The issues we have worked on are the awareness of sexual and reproductive health, sexually transmitted diseases/AIDS, protecting and promoting factors for breastfeeding. In all the workshops, leaflets were handed out as well as appointments for mammograms and gynaecological examinations.
As regards our work with the families, a murga workshop was carried out (group of percussionists and dancers dressed colourfully who parade along to the rhythm of their drums, during Carnival times). Boys from the SOS Community Centre, neighbourhood boys and several boys and girls living in the SOS Children´s Village families took part in this group. By means of the ‘Pro Huerta’ (pro vegetable garden) Programme, we have also carried out a community and family vegetable garden workshop, attended by the children and their parents. There were training sessions, the elements were provided and the development of the vegetable gardens was supervised.
Finally, this year we have been working hard on strengthening networks with the municipal government, managing resources and social programmes for the families, and with social and neighbourhood organizations such as the Health Centre, the municipal soup kitchen, nurseries and schools, supporting the follow-up and orientation of the families.
Once again we would like to thank you for your commitment, your generous support and for giving the boys and girls the chance to daily grow up in a family environment with love, respect and confidence.
Our warmest regards,
Horacio Cristian Cóceres
Celina de Belaieff
Family Strengthening Director