This Saturday, 15th May 2010, marks the ‘UN International Day of Families’, an annual event recognising the significance of the family in our modern lives. In addition to appreciating one’s own family, Families Day can be about doing something for people who do not have a family, or those whose families are having difficulties in coping. Alicia Magali, a 9-year-old child in the care of SOS Children, from Bogotá in Colombia, sums up the value of the family unit: “My name is Alicia Magali and for me the family is very important, because without it, we can’t live; with it, we live our dreams.”
SOS Children understands the need for a strong family foundation to maintain children’s wellbeing. Data on the number of children without a family is hard to pinpoint, but UNICEF figures put the number of children without parental care worldwide at about 163 million. SOS Children has over 500 Children’s Villages around the world, providing direct family-based care for 78,000 orphaned and abandoned children. Additionally, SOS Children runs many Family Strengthening Programmes in the wider community, supporting 450,000 children and their family members.
SOS Children reminds families that there are hundreds of things that families can do to encourage togetherness on the International Day of Families, such as:
• Play a board game
• Phone a member of your family you haven’t spoken to in a while
• Take a walk together
• Invite family members you haven’t seen in a while for lunch or dinner
• Share old photographs and talk about times in your childhood and youth
• Draw a family tree and make it a gift to your parents/grandparents/uncles/aunts etc
• Find out about the roots of your last name and tell your children about it
• Get your family together for a portrait – make it a silly one, if you want!
• Have a story telling night – try to get 3 generations involved!
• Use one of the social media websites to establish a network throughout your extended family – and use it to share moments of happiness, or to offer help if any family member needs support
The priority of SOS Children is to help families care for children. Regardless of their background, children should live in a family who will support them to reach their potential. Within a family each child is protected and enjoys a sense of belonging. When it is not possible for a child to remain in his or her current family, he or she may find a new home within a family in an SOS Children’s Village.