A warm welcome for our president
March brought a rare opportunity to welcome Siddhartha Kaul, the president of SOS Children’s Villages International, to our Cambridge office – the first time this decade the UK has hosted a presidential visit. On arrival, President Kaul met some of our key donors in Cambridge to thank them personally for their generous support. The following day, President Kaul met staff and trustees at our office, getting a flavour of the daily challenges and opportunities faced by a charity on the up during tough economic times. He spent the afternoon with two individuals who grew up with SOS Children’s Villages in Sri Lanka.
On the final day of his visit, President Kaul travelled to London to meet a few of our corporate supporters. He thanked them for their financial support and active engagement including the staff time and expertise they have generously donated during our partnership. They discussed how companies can have a pivotal role in helping young people from our communities worldwide, particularly to enjoy improved education opportunities and employment prospects. President Kaul was impressed by their determination to help more youngsters benefit from cooperation between SOS Children’s Villages and the private sector.
“We were very proud to show the president the fine work our team is doing,” said Simon Etherington, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages UK.
Uncertainty in Ukraine
Months of uncertainty are taking their toll on our two communities in Ukraine – one close to the Russian border in Lugansk and the other at Brovary near the capital Kiev. In a nation where a third of people already live below the poverty line, petrol and food prices are rising rapidly and, with tensions running high, the threat of violence is never far away.
In Lugansk, SOS mother Olgar said: “We are spending our savings to stock up on food. We no longer go out as a family in the evening or let the children walk home alone after school. We feel insecure. We wanted the children to grow up and get an education. Now we don’t know what will happen tomorrow.
Lyudmila Hartchenko, director of SOS Children’s Village Lugansk, added: “The situation is changing every day but we all agree, we don’t want war.”
Rescue in South Sudan
In March, after months of terror, families from our Village in the rebel-held city of Malakal were airlifted to safety in the South Sudanese capital of Juba. Our acting Village director, Isaac, was held at gunpoint and youth leader, Olyek, was held captive for eight days before making a miraculous escape. We evacuated our Village, but in the mayhem, SOS families were split up. Some fled northeast, while the others sought refuge at the UN base. Conditions there were poor, but leaving ran the risk of kidnap or death. Thankfully, families were safely rescued from the base and reunited.
On reaching Juba, Kiros Aregawi, SOS Children’s project manager in South Sudan said: “This is one of the happiest moments of my life. The children couldn’t believe they had escaped. Many thought their ordeal would never end.
£65,000 raised for Philippines appeal
When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November, 6,000 people died and more than 14 million suffered catastrophic damage to their homes, communities and livelihoods. Eight-year-old Maria survived by clinging to a concrete pillar but suffered the trauma of seeing her mother drown. Our Emergency Appeal has raised almost £65,000 to fund care for children left bereaved like Maria.
We run eight Village communities in the Philippines, including one in Tacloban, one of the worst-affected areas. There, we were able to respond immediately to provide food, shelter and counselling to traumatised children. Thanks to our generous supporters, over the next three years we will be able to support an additional 4,600 people by rebuilding homes and primary schools while investing in new boats and nets to help fishing families re-establish a living.
Keep up-to-date with all our latest news at: www.soschildren.org/news