Please note: This report may have been written by someone whose first language is not English. We have left it largely unedited, as this is how a sponsor would receive it.
Please receive warm greetings from our SOS Children’s Village Luján! Once again we have the opportunity to come closer to you hereby and to tell you about the boys, girls and youngsters of our SOS families, as also to share with you the activities done along this period at the Family Strengthening and Community Development Programme. We also would like to take this opportunity to thank you once more from the bottom of our heart for your generous contribution, which enables us to give the children a new home, a family and a better education.
At the present time 74 boys, girls and youngsters are part of our 10 families at the SOS Children’s Village Luján. The Village finds itself fully integrated to the neighbourhood’s community, with which works are jointly undertaken; at the SOS Children Village’s facilities, the Neighbourhood’s Development Committee gathers for its meetings and the communal nursery uses the playground at our park.
During the summer vacations, the community of the SOS Children’s Village Luján arranged the children and youngsters to take part at several activities alter finishing the 2009 school year. Thus, the children could take the most of their opportunities given along the summer and rest from their school works. SOS mothers and aunts arranged activities for the children and youngsters to get the chance to take part of different summer camps and to go to the swimming pool at a club nearby the SOS Children’s Village. Also at the Village, soccer championships were offered, as physical education and Arabic dance activities, salsa lessons, volleyball contests, birthday celebrations and community dinners. During the summer the youngsters also where working at their schools mowing the lawn and helping to improve their educational spaces.
To the Christmas and New Year’s festivities, the SOS families agreed to celebrate them together. Among SOS mothers and aunts, they arranged to buy all necessary things to make a big ‘asado’ (barbecue) and all collaborated setting the tables, caring about the grill, decorating the multiple purpose room and bringing gifts for everybody. Some children and youngsters spent the festivities with their biological families; therefore, the SOS Children’s Village treated them with gifts and supported them with food to share with their parents, relatives and friends. SOS mothers and aunts prepared the ‘asado’ and children and youngsters were in charge to arrange the tables. When the clock indicated midnight, all together in family and at a huge table, as big as our children’s and youngster’s hearts are, welcomed Christmas Eve and the New Year. At these festivities, some of the biological families of our children also took part, turning it into a very special atmosphere. From the SOS Children’s Village on, we stimulate joint work with the biological families of our children and youngsters, considering the relatives key allies at the development of the children.
The day of the Three Magi in January was a big surprise for everyone, adults as children; since the neighbourhood’s church always contributing with the SOS Children’s Village, arranged the Three Kings to visit the children. During the night, they called at the doors of several homes at the SOS Children’s Village; SOS mothers as children frightened run to look through the windows of their homes to see what was happening. To everybody’s surprise, there were the Kings waiting in front of the doors to open, with bags full of gifts for our children. One of the SOS mothers tells us: ‘The children’s faces revealed that much emotion, as only children can show!’
The beginning of school by March was a very important moment, experienced in a particular way by each SOS family. SOS mothers and aunts gathered already a month before to buy all school supplies, as notebooks, pencil cases, pens and backpacks. All children proudly showed their new school supplies and bags; the elder ones dressed in their new white pinafores and the younger ones, going to the nursery, in their smocks in different colours. Nerves and school beginning anxiety are always present there, this year was no exception; the re-encounter with the schoolmates, teachers and directors for the elder ones and a completely new world for the younger ones starting their first grade or nursery. Our children get much support from the schools and there is permanent contact between the teaching staff and the SOS Children’s Villages pedagogical team, escorting the children’s steps at their academic development, key to a successful evolution.
Over the last months, several children were welcomed to be part of our SOS families. Each time a new child arrives at our Village, the entire SOS family prepares itself for the event; the SOS brothers and sisters set up the room for the new sibling, paint a welcome banner and give the new brother or sister a present. It is always a very special day for all the SOS family members. By February, we have welcomed three children, who were taking part at the Family Strengthening Programme working close to the SOS Children’s Village. After coordinated work and in network with other institutions of the city of Luján, it was decided they would be welcomed in an SOS family at the Village; since the problematic of origin at their biological family had not been solved, despite interventions made to improve the situation.
In addition, SOS mother Julia recently welcomed an 11-year old boy. The day he arrived to the SOS Children’s Village, his new siblings ran to welcome him, helped him with his luggage and showed him his room. Today, he feels very happy and pleased, living with his SOS family; he started school satisfactorily, and every evening, when he comes home from school, he goes out to the park and plays with children his age. He states: ‘I have found my place in the world, since the day I arrived at the SOS Children’s Village’. By nights, when his SOS siblings see he is somehow sad, they visit him at his room, tickle him or bring some book to read a story together.
The Family Strengthening and Community Development Programme nowadays counts with two Community Centres and one Community Home, where 119 children and their families are supported. By the end of 2009, we gladly celebrated the inauguration of a new Community Centre at the Ameghino district of the city of Luján. The opening of that centre means a great achievement, since it operates in a neighbourhood with a large number of children requiring attention and care. At the last community meeting, Victoria, one of the mothers emphasized her gratitude to the Community Mothers, since her daughter reached to leave the diapers and her son had learned to write his name and to socialize with other boys and girls.
During the summer those children six years old and up could enjoy the municipal summer camp, where they spent summer days at the swimming pool and learned how to swim. The littler ones enjoyed refreshing and playing in smaller canvas pools, the family committees got for the community centres. Also along the summer, the team of the school levelling workshop worked together with the children to strengthen and improve their reading and writing. This way we are looking to give the children the necessary tools to start the coming school year better prepared.
From the Family Strengthening and Community Development Programme on, we continue intensively working with the community and the families, supporting them to improve their abilities to protect and take care of their children, so that they are allowed to grow up in a safe family environment. We strongly believe that the natural family is the best place a child can grow up, that is why we work with those families and communities where the children are at most risk of losing the care of their family.
We hope that we could give you an overview of our daily work through this report. We say good-bye, handing over kind greetings to you, on behalf of the entire community of the SOS Children’s Village Luján, which also sincerely thanks you for your support and generosity.
Horacio Cristian Cóceres
Celina de Belaieff
Family Strengthening Programme
Veronica B. Hohla