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SOS Children's Villages has been working hard to improve the lot of orphaned children in Eastern Europe since the Seventies although it was only in the eighties that our first Village offered Family based care in the Czech Republic. Since then a large number have spread across Eastern Europe offering hope for... … more about our charity work in Europe

Child Sponsorship Report 2010, from Marina Gorka, Belarus

Children from Marina Gorka playing
Children from Marina Gorka playing

A child sponsorship report from Marina Gorka in Belarus. Written in 2010.

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.

Dear sponsors,

The SOS Children’s Village Marina Gorka accommodates 83 children – 40 boys and 43 girls. In January, there have been two new arrivals: two boys, a 6-year-old and 2-year-old. The latter very quickly got adjusted to the new environment and, as cute and curious as he is, at once became everybody’s best friend. Any visitor he can get hold of, the boy drags to his room in order to demonstrate his ‘own’ bed and chair. The older boy's happy chatting is the best proof that the boy has found a real family and a mother – the most important person in a child’s life.

Two most senior girls among SOS Children’s Village children are school graduates. They have already decided on their future professions (book keeper and sales assistant respectively) and ready themselves for college. Two senior boys – have been so impressed by the visiting representatives of the Ministry of Emergencies (especially after trying on the uniform) that they decided to enter the respective training course at the ME-school where one of our youngster is already enrolled.

67 SOS Children’s Village residents are school children. That’s why their learning progress is watched very closely by SOS mothers and pedagogues. Every child is rendered help and assistance as his or her development specifics and resulting situation warrant. Following the children’s requests, additional classes in mathematics, physics and Russian – subjects that present most problems – were held at the SOS Village. Regular school 4th-graders who desire to enter and continue their education at the local gymnasium, where the learning requirements are much tougher, were the most frequent participants of those classes.

The children’s interest in learning is encouraged at an early stage, when in nursery. 15 SOS Children’s Village residents at nursery attend a special ‘would-be-first-graders’ course with participation of junior school teachers. School preparation activities are held at the SOS Village as well. For that matter, from January through April, the local psychologist conducted an emotional maturity evaluation series of pre-school children. They got instructed how to understand others, deal with and resolve conflict situations.

At the SOS Village, every child can find an appropriate application for his talents by attending various hobby activities. Children go in for dancing and singing, 37 attend the local school of arts. Recently, a drama hobby group came into being when local sponsors – a major energy supply company – purchased some 15 doll sets for a puppet show. After the stage was fabricated and all necessary props acquired, the newly minted troupe is ready to surprise us with their performance.

Aircraft modelling enjoys great popularity with children including those from the neighbourhood community. The same goes for amateur wrestling, gymnastics and soccer.

Our special care and attention are dedicated to SOS mothers. Individual psychological counselling is conducted on a regular basis to deal with emotional tensions. The best therapy, however, is when children confess their love and affection, show gratitude both privately and in public. The most touching public events in that respect is the Mothers’ Day. “It’s not just a routine job. It’s my real family and my actual life”, said a SOS-mother when interviewed at such an event.

We are particularly happy about the continued, steady growth in the number of our friends. The horseback riding school administration, for example, granted our children the free-of-charge admission and training. Kids not only have the opportunity to train at no expense, but also are allowed to take care of animals which they are especially delighted about. One admitted to have rid herself of her fear of horses: “The horse’s lips would gently pick up pieces of dry bread from my hand producing the sensation of warmth and kindness…”

For a number of years, the local dental clinic has been treating our children at discounted prices. This year, they made a special treat providing dental services at no expense. More yet, the cured kids got presented backpacks equipped with teeth brushing sets.

Educational Project

The Educational Project presents a new aspect in supporting the neighbourhood community by the SOS Organization. Activities are aimed at providing extra pedagogical and educational assistance to children from low-income families, organizing their out-of-school time in the most useful manner.

The project is a joint effort by the SOS Organization as well as local school, gymnasium and nursery (day nursery) administrations. In 2009, the SOS contribution to the project totalled 9784 Euro. The overall number of those participating and benefiting reached 290.

Children with poor school performance benefited from additional help organized by the school teachers, who are involved in the project.

Project beneficiaries & participants can take also advantage of:
•    modern equipment and appliances;
•    age-specific furniture items;
•    developmental gaming tools.

SOS Youth Home #3

Over a year, the SOS Youth Home #3 accommodates 5 youths who arrived there from the SOS Children’s Village Maryina Gorka. All of them have already made their choice in terms of future profession and are enrolled in different kind of professional training & education. We are looking forward and are ready to welcome new arrivals: two girls, the local high school graduates, who are expected to leave their SOS-families and move to the youth home.

For the time being, the SOS Youth Home #3 hasn’t got its own residence yet and is situated in a rented apartment.

SOS Youth Home pedagogues and educators are there not just to accompany the youngsters on their way of growing up, but accustom them to a certain life rhythm, lay down traditions and rituals in order to form a family of likeminded supporting people and friends. That’s why there have been so great many educational events of different sort (SOS-youth community accession ceremony, visit with the local priest, medical testing & health inspection series, familiarization with the volunteer movement etc.), cultural activities (visiting a photograph exhibition, attending two premières in town theatres), sports events (downhill skiing at the local winter sports centre) etc.

In their spare time, the youngsters engage in charitable activities at the local orphanage where they not only take care of children, but also help co-workers and staff. Recently, the youth home residents assisted in the renovation of the local church.

At the moment, they look forward to summer rest and recreation with the boat journey as its central event. Some might seek temporary employment in order to earn extra pocket money.

At this difficult time, we deeply appreciate and thank you for your support of the SOS projects.

Yours Sincerely,
Oleg Sevryuk,