Dear Friends and Sponsors,
Receive a warm greeting from El Salvador in this special season of the year. It is a great pleasure to write to you one more time to share with you the daily life of the families and events inside the SOS Children’s Village Santa Ana throughout this year.
In this last three months we have had 139 children in our programme, 78 are boys and 61 are girls, this has been during the year because we haven’t had new children welcomed. We also count with two SOS Youth Facilities, one for girls and the other for boys, making a total of 16 teenagers, 9 girls and 7 boys. At the beginning of the year five teenagers where transferred to these facilities and since 3 months ago 14 more are being prepared to be transferred next year.
For many of our teenagers it might be difficult to be transferred to the youth facility because they find very hard the fact that they have to be separated from their SOS family but especially from their SOS mother. A group of ladies used to spend more of her free time in the village than in the youth facility after they were transferred. This is the case of Evelyn of 17 years old, María de Los Angeles of 16 and Claudia Lisseth of 17 also, who go to heir SOS house right after school and their SOS mother have to tell them to go to the youth facility before dawn; on their free time or with any excuse they used to go visiting their SOS families in the village. Thanks to the support of the pedagogical team and the SOS mothers they have been helped in this process of leaving their SOS family and mother, they still have a very strong bond with their family of the village, but now they are ladies with a lot of confidence and very independent. It is remarkable to be able to observe the bonds that are made through the years between the SOS mothers and their children, especially with the ones that were received since they were babies.
Another of the difficulties that out youth have to deal with is the lack of opportunities for a job, not just because there are few opportunities, but also because the ones they find are not the best for them and their development. María de los Angeles was very nervous when she started looking for a part time job; it took her three days to decide to go to the place and apply for the job. Luckily, the day she finally decided to do it they hired her and the same day she started in the clothing store. It has been an important experience in her life that has filled her with a lot of personal satisfaction and helped her to be more mature and to feel capable to do anything she proposes. She also has helped other girls that were in the same situation, she has helped them to lose that fear of giving themselves the chance. As part of the process to become independent the youth have to start looking for a job, at least a part time job that allows them to become independent step by step; therefore it is very important that everyone do this process and find a job.
During this year we welcomed nine children in our families, that is why an adaptation program was developed, which covered the social, physiological and educational area. For María Estefanía and her brother José Benjamín of 6 and 2 years old respectively, the process of adaptation to their new life on the village was not easy. Their SOS mother María who has over fifteen years of being in the village was a key support for the children, she never gave up on the process. The first days the children cried a lot and sometimes they refused to eat, but she was dedicated to them all day long, especially in the moments when they did not feel well, she stayed with them until they feel better. In the same way, their SOS siblings had been a big support for them, they have welcomed them very good, take good care of them and make them feel protected. It has been very satisfactory to see their improvement and now they are very happy with their SOS family and go out to play with the other children of the village.
In the social and cultural area we have had a lot of participation and activity by the SOS families and the children. A recreational and sport program has been developed and it includes children from 5 to 18 years old, in which tournaments of soccer, basketball, races and skates are made, and some board games as well as puzzles, chess and checkers among others. This recreational activities are given us very good results, we started with four-hours shifts but the children were so enthusiastic that now we have shifts from 8 o’clock in the morning until 4 pm. This has kept the children very motivated and has helped our teenagers in the areas of discipline and responsibility. Teams of girls and boys from 5 to 7 years old have been made, in which the couches are the teenagers of the programme.
We also have had different activities focused on the development of our adolescents and youth. Meetings have been made during two weekends in which the youth have shared an evening of campfire and barbecue. This hasn’t been just spare time activities but also has given us the opportunity to know what thirty teens of fourteen years old think about their lives and their future. Within the trainings vocational workshops have been developed, which were attended by fifty boys and girls over twelve years, among we have dressmaking, tailoring, computers, electricity, auto mechanics, electronics, english and crafts, and how to make piñatas, like the Mexican ones. It is also important to mention that football and swimming are the most practiced sport among our children. We have a group of eight children that learned how to play the flute and last month they had their firs participation in the art house of the city.
This year we have four youth of nineteen and twenty years who are preparing to start their process to become independent at the end of December. This is also a big step for the youth, especially to those who do not count with any family reference and have to take care of themselves. That is the case of Gloria Elizabeth of 19 years old who was welcomed by her SOS family when she was a newborn. She has become independent with the support of her SOS mother because she never met any relative and she is adapting very well to her new life as an independent person. For now she works in a clothing factory and she continues studying high school, she is a junior; she lives with her SOS mother’s and is still waiting for the approval of a credit in order to buy her own house. She is very confident of herself taking the responsibility of her life and with future projections. The program of independence with success is developed since the age of 12, when the child lives inside the village, this program consists in supporting every area of the child’s life that has to be strength or develop, like the family area, SOS family and biological family, the area of academic or vocational formation, the emotional stability and where the child projects himself so he can have a life plan already when he is transferred to the youth facility, which will help him to achieve his goals day by day, until he becomes independent.
We hope you enjoyed reading and knowing more about the different activities that the families live in the village. We want you to know that we are making our biggest effort in order to give our children a better life and a better future, and you are part of it. Thank you very much for your help and support that makes us able to reach it. May God bless you always.
Norma Elizabeth de Herrera