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Children in Latvia face neglect as parents struggle to find work and social welfare spending declines. Education is key to securing a route out of poverty, and SOS Children's Villages offers key resources for children, including help with school work. In the past, we have supported a primary school, financing refurbishment and renewal of equipment. … more about our charity work in Latvia

Inspiring SOS young people carry Olympic Torch

Inspiring SOS young people carry Olympic Torch

Three gifted young people from SOS Children's Villages in Europe carried the Olympic torch through UK cities earlier this month. Read Zita, Linda and Mirle's stories.

Zita Vajgel

Zita, 18, from SOS Children's Village Battonya in Hungary ran with the Olympic torch in Swanage on 13 July.

Zita came to live at the SOS Children’s Village in 2001 with her three sisters, after their parents were no longer able to care for them. She has enjoyed running since she was a child, and says: "It was here, at the age of eight, that I discovered sports and developed particular passion for athletics." Zita trained in the Village and joined local sports clubs. She has won medals at village, county, local competitions, and in summer camps. She says: “My biggest success is winning the Szeged county long-jump and the county's relay race, which took me to the national competitions where I won the bronze." Zita hopes to go on to study sports education.

"My sports' results do not allow me to participate in the Olympic Games as competitor," Zita wrote in her application to be a torchbearer. "But my dream is to be an Olympian and being a torch bearer will make my dream come true. I think it will be a great adventure not only for me, for I can show other underprivileged children that with great fight, personal effort and help you can reach your goal."

Zita was delighted with the news that she was chosen as a torch bearer. She says: "My friends say that I'll trip and fall and that the flame will go out. I know they're just teasing and that they're very proud of me. But, I think the ones I made most proud are in this room. My family is my rock. I come back home every chance I get."

Linda Klavina

Gifted young athlete Linda, 13, from Latvia carried the Olympic torch on 18th July in Samphire Hoe, Kent.

Linda lives in SOS Children's Village Valmiera with her SOS mother and six siblings. She started to train in long and medium distance running only three years ago and now through hard work she has managed to be one of the leading athletes in her age group in Latvia - and she continues to pave her way to become a professional athlete.

Linda won the bronze medal in her age group at this year’s Latvian national winter championship – her biggest achievement to date.  Linda is not shy of hard work and trains five times a week in order to compete in 800 to 1500 metre races.

Linda is excited to be an Olympic torchbearer. "I am so happy and proud!" she says with a smile. She adds: "At first I almost didn't believe it to be true. Even my classmates thought I was kidding. My [SOS] mother is very happy! More than me, I'd say."

Linda is determined to dedicate her life to sports and one day become a leading professional athlete, but deep down she likes to keep a low-profile and is quite the homely type. "I dream of one day competing at the Games. Being an Olympic torchbearer is an incredibly important step forward for me."

Besides sports, Linda plays flute in music school and trains in national folk-dances while helping with day-to-day family life.

Mirle Mirovic

Mirle, 22, a young man who grew up in SOS Children's Village Sremska Kamenica in Serbia, carried the Olympic torch through Margate on 19th July.

After his father died and his mother left him alone when he was young, Mirle came to live at SOS Children's Village Novi Sad, located in Serbia's second largest city. With the support of his SOS family, he achieved excellent results throughout primary and secondary school. He is currently a student of the Faculty of Natural Science and Mathematics at the Novi Sad University in Serbia and is achieving excellent results.

Mirle also enjoys playing music, particularly woodwind instruments, and is a member of Kolarac Orchestra. His achievements led to his nomination, and Mirle is also very proud to be carrying the torch!