The year 2009 is a year that is very significant to SOS Children’s Villages – it is a year of double celebrations for the Organization. 2009 marks 60 years since the first SOS Family was established in a small town called Imst in Austriaa. Since SOS opened its operations in Sri Lanka 30 yars ago, your financial commitment towards our work has helped us to serve 1,385 children and youth in the family based care in the five SOS Children’s Villages and over 2,100 children, youth and adults in the Family Strengthening programmes in Sri Lanka.
On behalf of children, mothers, co-workers and on my personal behalf, let me thank you for being with us to support our work for the children and keeping the light of hope burning in the lives of children in the SOS families at SOS Children’s Village Monaragala as well as in the Family Strengthening Programmes that we are carrying out in the neighbouring communities. Happy childhood - is the right of every child. With your continued support for our work, you have ensured that 386 children and youth who are cared in all the SOS Projects at SOS Children’s Village, Monaragala. Thank you.
SOS Children’s Village
Six girls and 16 boys found a new home and a family at SOS Children's Village Monaragala. At present a total of 94 children are provided care in 12 SOS Families. All of them except for 2 girls who are following vocational training, the rest are schooling. Children, mothers and co-workers join in celebrating all the important national festivals as well as the religious festivals. This helps the young children to enrich their knowledge about the traditions and values such festivals uphold. Dilki Bagya, was successful in the Grade 5 Scholarship examination held in August 2009. She scored 142 marks out of 200. Children between the age of 10-11 years of age are eligible to take this examination. This is a very competitive examination where students will have to answer 200 questions on general knowledge. Students who pass this exam are eligible to apply to national schools in the area. A small financial grant too would be awarded to the student until he/she complete the advanced level schooling. We congratulate Dilki for passing the examination.
SOS Children’s Village Monaragala continues to serve the children in their neighbouring community as well. 121 children attend the SOS Nursery. All activities at the Kindergarten are focused on developing the personality of the young children attending the SOS Nursery. In addition to celebrating the national and religious festivals, the children are participating in the annual concert and also the annual sports meet. Monaragala is the poorest district in the country. The livelihood of many here is cultivation. Since it is in the dry zone, the farmers very much depended on the rain that they receive. The interior villages in Monaragala are very poor. To mark the International Children’s Day, the children, teachers and the parents organized a programme to felicitate 125 children from the 6 Pre-schools in the rural area. The children were given an opportunity to associate each other and play with them as well as sing and dance. It was a very enjoy able day for all the children. At the end of the day, the children from the SOS Nursery together with their parents, presented their friends from the rural area a gift as well as the play items for their school. The co-operation we receive from the parents of the children in organizing these special activities is very much appreciated.
The Family Strengthening Programme
The Family Strengthening Programme, helping children in need, in the neighbouring community – has made a significant mark – in the lives of the young beneficiaries. Being able to continue their schooling and having a square meal every day means a lot for these young children. Currently 240 children and youth are enrolled in this programme. The caregivers of these children (parents and adults of the beneficiary families), are also provided with awareness programmes and self employment programmes. As adults they too need to be guided and assisted to be responsible for their own family. Young children are provided assistance to continue their education, whilst youth and adults are helped to learn a trade so that they could earn a living. The children were encouraged to form Children’s Clubs. They are involved in engaging in small scale activities such as cleaning public areas of their neighbourhood to prevent the breading of flies and mosquitoes, taking part in religious activities – meditation programmes. This would help them to understand as to how they could get-together to help others. They also get together to present a session of sing-song from time to time where they are able to cultivate their creative talents. We are happy to say that we have identified 135 more children from 84 families to be assisted under this programme in 2010.
SOS Youth Facilities
13 boys are being provided for in the SOS Youth Facility for Boys at SOS Children’s Village Monaragala. Five of them are following vocational training and the rest are schooling. As we do not have a Youth Facility for girls, 3 older girls moved to the SOS Youth facility at Katubedda – (a town closer to SOS Children’s Village Piliyandala), to follow vocational/employment training. One girl moved to SOS Youth Facility at Galle to follow employment training. Since the English language standard is very low of them, the boys requested a special programme to improve their English language skills. English Language Workshop for five days at a time was organized during the school vacations. The rule was that they could speak only in English at this time. Special programmes to improve their speech, writing and reading too were implemented. This was very popular as well the boys showed a lot of interest in active participation in this programme. These youths, though they are resident in the SOS Youth Facilities, they continue to belong to their SOS Families. Hence they continue their relationship with their families even though they physically do not live in the SOS Family house. Five youth found employment during this year.
SOS Vocational Training Centre
After 3 years of its existence a valuation of the courses provided to the trainees was done by the Tertiary and Education Commission. We are pleased to announce that this VTC has now been graded as an “A”: Grade Vocational training Centre. The trainees are now able to take the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) examination and receive the NVQ Certificate as well. At present 86 trainees – 30 of them are residential and the rest are day scholars – are receiving training in 6 difference specified course subjects - Automobile Mechanic, Welder, Carpenter, Electrician, Computer Application Assistant and Eco-tourism & Hotel Industry. 351 trainees have successfully completed their training in this VTC and 202 of them are employed, whilst the rest are self employed in the field of agriculture. However, the knowledge they acquired during their training does come useful to them when they have attend to their equipments or for their personal use in their homes. The trainees were also given special training in “Five S system” and “Productivity”. The trainees also organized an industrial exhibition in their premises which was visited by many school children from the area. The items presented were produced by the trainees and it was very evident how “training” would enhance the “talent” in an individual.
2009 is also very significant for our country – the civil unrest that has been in our country came to an end. SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka was able to set up a SOS Temporary Care Centre in the Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDP) in the north of the country. 4 Dormitories – 2 for girls and 2 for boys, a kitchen and an administrative building comprises this project. As of mid October 2009, 217 girls and boys of various age groups who need care were brought home to the Centre. These children and youth were either orphans or the parents and family were separated in the chaos of activities that took place during the latter stages of the civil war in the north of Sri Lanka. We were able to reunite 15 children with their biological/extended families whilst five youth who were over 18 were admitted to follow vocational training at Don Bosco Technical Institute, Jaffna. 197 children are resident. At present more attention is given to help the children with trauma therapy and provide security, especially for girl child. The temporary school set up in the IDP Camp does not have sufficient space for all the children to attend school at the same time. Therefore young children attend school during the morning hours and the older children in the afternoon. When they are not attending school they are in the tuition classes held in the SOS Premises. Efforts are made to find their families and reunite them. At a later stage if we are unable to locate their families, such children would be continued to care for in one of the SOS Children’s Villages.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, we do very much appreciate your continued commitment to support our work for the children of our country and are very proud of you. Let’s continue to work together to ensure that many more children in our country would have a happy childhood and live with love and security at all times.
Seasons’ Greetings and A Happy New Year 2010.