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‘You feel like crying when you see where the children are living…’

These were the thoughts of SOS village educator Elizabeth when she visited a child-headed family near Nairobi in Kenya. In videos made by SOS staff, watch them talk about the process for children arriving in the Village, and how these two children have now found a safe home in the SOS community.

Thirteen year old Jeteda was the sole carer for her three-year-old brother Dennis, and juggled school with cooking, cleaning and caring for him. Their parents had died of HIV/AIDS and the children were living alone, isolated from their community because of their parents’ disease. Their home had no electricity and so many holes in the walls that poisonous snakes came into their rooms.

They were visited by SOS social workers who decided that it was in the best interests of the children to come to live at SOS Children's Village Nairobi. Elizabeth, a member of the child admission committee, describes how SOS Children identify vulnerable children, and how they come to be in the care of the charity:

After staff obtained the relevant paperwork, the two children arrived at the SOS Village and were introduced to their new SOS family. The Village Director described how they were welcomed into the community:

There are often challenges in integrating new children into their classes, especially when they come from difficult backgrounds. When Dennis first arrived in the Village, he was unable to communicate, but after guidance from his nursery teacher, he was able to pick up words in English and Swahili. His nursery teacher, Jacky, explains Dennis’ progress:

It has now been two years since the children arrived at the Village. Jeteda is now 15 and preparing to move from her family home to the girls’ youth hostel on the Village site. SOS Children help teenagers to make the transition to independence, by offering programmes in life skills, health and community, and supporting them to manage their own time, schoolwork and money. SOS youth workers such as Jal provide the young adults with guidance and support throughout this process. Here, Jal talks about the process of preparing Jeteda for independent life:

SOS Children’s Village Nairobi, built in 1975, was the first SOS Village in Kenya. The Village has sixteen family houses for 160 orphaned and abandoned children. An SOS Nursery has three classrooms and a playground for 75 little children from both the SOS Children's Village and the neighbourhood. Nearby is the SOS Primary School which is currently attended by 240 children. When the children are around 14 years old, under the care of qualified youth leaders, they gradually prepare for independence in an SOS Youth Home. Read more about our work in Kenya.