From a very sunny Paraguay we greet you once again very near to the end of the year. 2009 has been a year of many comings and goings both in the country and in SOS Children’s Villages Paraguay. The political ground has not changed significantly. In fact there is a feeling of disappointment among Paraguayans, who feel left down by broken promises.
There are many unsolved conflicts, scandals in the government and corruption. Regarding the economic situation, SOS Children’s Villages had to face some challenges as well. In the beginning of the year, all the programs, including those that provide service to many communities like the SOS School needed to find local allegiances and support in order to cope with the difficulties.
On the other hand, amidst every crisis we can also find good and emphasize the greater social commitment from both the private and public sectors. An instance of this has been the important donation the organization received from a leader telecommunications company, who raised funds through a social campaign. Also, another company donated one toy per child on Children’s Day. This drew big smiles around all the 6 SOS Children’s Villages.
It is thanks to humanitarian people that this year we can say that the SOS Children’s Village in Luque counts with 14 SOS families and 107 children and adolescents. There are 57 girls and 50 boys. As every year, we have dreams accomplished, nice as well as difficult times, and the same determination to achieve a significant impact in the development of children and adolescents under our care, as well as strengthening other families in the surrounding communities in order to prevent child abandonment.
In addition, in the beginning of the year 11 youths started to be part of the Semi-Independent Housing Programme. They have successfully adjusted to their new communities and to a more self-reliant life. A key factor for this has been the constant accompaniment and support of the SOS mother and the Youth Care co-worker.
As soon as the year started, children and adolescents began to get ready for the already traditional carnival celebration. It was organized by the SOS mothers and youth group and carried out on February 14th at the SOS village patio. The whole SOS village had a wonderful night with a lot of color, rhythm and fun. The little children dressed up in sparkly costumes and the older ones danced and gave presentations.
On July, the winter holidays arrived, and for the kids’ amusement, they were extended one more week of what it is usual in order to avoid the flu virus massive infection at schools. In spite the fact that a great number of people got sick, we are happy to say that the children and youths at the SOS Children’s Village Luque stayed healthy and strong. They made the most out of this extra week by organizing a sports competition inviting all the neighborhoods in the area. The objective was to strengthen the bonds between the SOS village and the community in Luque. The results were very positive since participation and attendance were significant. Although the musical band and the dance group at the SOS village are always very busy with presentations and festivals all around the city, they made sure to be present with great presentations at the festive moments at the SOS village like children’s day or this activity in July.
On September we welcomed spring and to celebrate it we organized an activity at a country house in the city of Villa Elisa, some 50km away from Luque. We received the help of a Foundation called Creciendo en Movimiento Paraguay (Growing with movement). They organized lively activities such as family dynamics, countries’ festival, sports, and an area for small children where they expressed through drawings, paintings and physical games, as well as games that exercise values such as cooperativeness, solidarity and building up self esteem for the older ones. Other fun activities included adventure sports, climbing walls and arts. The whole day was really entertaining and very much useful for releasing stress and relaxing.
In the same month, we celebrated Youth’s day. This year the SOS mothers tried something quite new. They very secretively organized a surprise party for all the youths. They started the night with an interest activity that consisted in giving out honor certificates to each of the attendants, emphasizing their most salient qualities and virtues. Everyone was surprised and moved by the whole initiative. Both the SOS mothers and some of the kids could not help a few tears. Afterwards they shared some dancing and a nice dinner.
Regarding education, this year we can mention the development of an educational program focused on business management and economics, designed for students of the 1st year of high school at the SOS School. The adolescents developed, with success, a small business of handmade bijouterie under the direction of the Paraguayan Foundation Junior Achievement, and the support of the Vision Bank. With this undertaking the youths have developed an endeavored spirit, creative and determined as well as leadership skills. The youths count now with a bigger picture of what the labor market implies and they have a small but significant practical experience that will facilitate a good start in the future when they have a career.
Capacity building workshops have been developed as well with the group DECIDAMOS (Let’s decide) a NGO that develops campaigns and programs promoting citizens to speak up and advocate for civil rights and citizenship liberties. The workshops extended over a period of 6 months, and the youths and SOS mothers participated with interest. Thanks to this, they are now more acquainted with issues such as Human Rights, Discrimination and Citizenship participation. Concerning rights, another reason for accomplishment has to do with a very successful young representative from the SOS village. She is a member of an organization defending children’s rights. She travelled to Geneva to present a Report on Civil Rights and Society in October at the Children’s Rights Committee in Geneva. Vulnerable children from all over the Paraguay were represented and their rights claimed through this courageous adolescent.
Moreover, besides the recreational and educational activities, the community has been part of many spiritual events. During the year they have attended mass, first communions and confirmations in the catholic faith. The SOS mothers find the spiritual aspect very important in the development of their children.
It is a fact that at every stage of development that the children and adolescents go through they have different needs. The SOS village counts with a big number of adolescents and youths. Therefore, this year some of them, started to show behavior issues, mostly because of the many changes they go through and how these changes have an effect on their social interaction. The Youth care co worker and the SOS mothers sought the best strategies to cope with the needs of each one of them. Some started therapy and have had many positive changes in their behaviors and self-esteem. Other were included as volunteers at a children’s home called Ñande Rogami and at the Nursery Casa de La paz in Luque. They feel useful and accomplished, and they have found that it is a very rewarding way of spending their time, helping others.
Finally, the SOS Children’s Village Luque has been blessed with some community work themselves just like some of the kids provide for other institutions. Students from the Evangelic University of Paraguay offer their work in fixing and improving the playground at the SOS village. The university in general is known for working in forming professionals that can further contribute and transform society for better. They have several community projects and gladly, this year we were benefited from one of them. The children were also part of this since they were present almost the whole time the students were working, and even offered themselves to help out. Now that they consider it to be their achievement too, they say they will make a bigger effort to take care of the playground.
Aldea Infantil SOS Luque/SOS Children’s Village Luque