Dear sponsors, dear friends:
This is a special year: SOS Children’s villages turned 60 years old! Thanks to your generous and constant support, in Chile, we can continue growing and helping children and their families make a better future - with 14 children’s villages and 11 Family Strengthening Programmes. Today, almost 4500 children and their families are supported by our organization in Chile, from Arica in the very north to Chiloe-Island in Chilean Patagonia.
In complement to our traditional SOS family childcare model, we desire that every child belongs to a family and grows in love, respect and security and never loses their support. For this reason, we work especially with lonely or unemployed mothers. Not far from our village, in the sector close to the Pacific Ocean, that is one of the poorest in our country, our Family Strengthening Programme supports 344 children in pre-school age and their families. Here, some mothers got together and organized Nurseries in community centers, so that others can find work. We empower them in their self esteem and with some professional trainings workshops.
Our SOS Children’s village Padre Las Casas is the youngest of all Chilean villages, we opened our doors less than two years ago. The first families were formed last year and they lived in rented houses in the same community because the construction of the village was still unfinished. Last January, the SOS village opened its doors and despite the hot summer month, the children entered happily into their new houses, ran through the bright rooms and organized their clothes in the closets. Not one of them has lived in such a big house before and many could not believe that this is to be their home from now on. The first 36 children made up 6 families. Today, 12 months later, 99 children and youngsters between 11 months and 16 years have received a secure home filled with love. Most of them, 55, attend primary school, 43 are in nursery school and Kindergartens and one young lady is enrolled in high school. Our family will continue growing next year as the village has been planned for 120 children in 14 families.
In 2009, 63 children found their new home in our village. Two of those are biological siblings (Constanza, 2 and Pedro, 6). In consequence of a severe slackness by their biological parents, the family judge decided to put them in a protection home. There was no place in any of these houses for both of them and so, they were separated to different places and lost contact. Constanza, who was that time a baby, did not remember her former life. But Pedrito, in the moment of separation a boy of 5, often missed his small Cony, because he used to take care of her before.
The opening of a completely new village made it possible that groups of several biological siblings (up to 4 in our case) could live here unifying brothers and sisters, who previously lived separately. We visited Pedro in a home that he shared with 20 other children. Immediately, he gained our hearts because of his incredible compassion, boisterous personality and artistic talents. Gloria, his future mother, told him about his new house and showed him pictures of his future siblings. On the way to the village she also told him about the most important thing: that his small Cony will join him in the village that very same day. The village house was decorated with balloons and garlands, on the table were delicious foods and all of the sisters and brothers wanted to meet the singer of Mexican folklore, Pedro. Upon entering the house Pedro seemed frightened and sat in a big arm chair. The welcome party did not look to be important for him, and every moment he grew more nervous and anguished. Then, someone knocked on the door. The boy stood up and with expectation asked mother Gloria: Could it be my sister? She asked him to open the door. After opening it, Pedro’s face changed completely: it filled with emotion and, with a lot of tenderness, Pedrito hugged his sister. Not one eye remained dry in that moment. Constanza is the smallest in her family and the most spoiled one. Pedro has not only showed his singing talent, but also his gifts as a good dancer and an excellent pupil. Both live in a family that has received them with love, respect and security.
After their classes the children have the possibility to develop their talents and hobbies. Bastián, Richard and Michael are excellent football players and form part of the community football school. Priscilla won the community competition in gymnastics and the dancers of cueca (Chilean national dance) Pedro, Iván and Valeria represented our village in a folklore show. Cristián, who fell in love with classical music, plays violin in the children’s orchestra of his school.
We want to highlight the work, strength and generosity of our SOS mothers. Beside their daily work, they continue learning in different workshops at our Mothers’ school or in our village. Throughout the entire year we have benefited from a project financed by a foreign bank: we were able to hire a specialist in education for children with special needs, psycho-pedagogues and psychologists, who worked with our children in a playful way after coming home from their classes. At the same time, they trained the mothers in how to help their children in school preparations. In addition, every family got a computer. Concluding the school year, we saw the first results – many children had improved their performance in school!
But we have had fun too! In May, we celebrated Mother´s Day together, in August, Children’s Day and in September, the Chilean Independence. Now, our families prepare for the first Christmas in their homes: they talk about how to decorate the living room, what plate would be the best for the Christmas Eve Dinner and of course, the children dream about their Christmas presents.
Our town is not very big, but our neighbours help us whenever they can. Several firms made a donation in toys for Christmas and support us in other activities, too.
We want to thank you for your generous support.
We say goodbye for now and wish you and your families a blessed Christmas time and a new year in peace, health and harmony.
Verónica Villablanca Navea
Director SOS Children’s Village