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Zimbabwe once had one of Africa's finest education systems, but a declining economy hit living standards, throwing many into hardship and limiting opportunities for children. At our three SOS Children's Villages, we help vulnerable children flourish through the very best care, education and healthcare. … more about our charity work in Zimbabwe

Red Nose Day 2015: Thank you Comic Relief!

Year after year, Comic Relief transforms the lives of children worldwide – an achievement close to our hearts at SOS Children
Year after year, Comic Relief transforms the lives of children worldwide – an achievement close to our hearts at SOS Children

Comic Relief funds projects all over the globe, transforming the lives of children, families and communities worldwide. With its focus on improving children's futures, helping families achieve independence and building stronger communities, the amazing work of Comic Relief is particularly resonant for us here at SOS Children.

With Red Nose Day only a week away, we thought we'd celebrate by looking at how Comic Relief has changed lives in three of the communities where we work.

Comic Relief: Learn the basics

  • Comic Relief supports projects in South and Central America, Africa, Asia and the UK. Along with Sport Relief, Red Nose Day is Comic Relief's key fundraising event.
  • Red Nose Day began in 1988. A great success, it was followed a year later and has taken place every two years since.
  • Comic Relief awards grants to locally based projects connected to their five themes: better futures, healthier finances, safer lives, stronger communities and a fairer society.
  • Outside the UK, projects can qualify for support if they strive towards one or more of seven goals: better healthcare for women and children, education for adults and children, gender equality, improved living for slum dwellers, safety for young people at risk, quality of life for people with HIV, income generation for poor people.

Our top three!

Here we highlight just a few of the many amazing projects run by Comic Relief that are especially close to our heart.


Comic Relief supports 35 projects in Kenya, many of which target families and young people. In fact, Comic Relief's biggest grant in Kenya, awarded in 2012, goes towards a project addressing the high levels of illiteracy amongst the nation's children, and is run by the South Africa Institute for Distance Learning. Because so many assume that children learn to read in school, many parents do not benefit from the resources to educate their own children at home. This project provides reading material for children at the very beginning of the learning process.

For us, early-years learning is vital if children are to grow up into independent adults. At each of our five Children's Villages in Kenya, young children attend the SOS Nursery alongside children from the vulnerable families in the local community. Their learning continues through primary and secondary school right up to skills training. In Nairobi, Mombasa and Eldoret, we run our own schools, whilst in Meru and Kisumu, children are able to attend schools in the neighbourhood.

South Africa

Every month, the SOS Mobile Medical Clinic visits 13 deprived communities around the Zambian town of Chipata
We believe services such as healthcare and education are vital to ensure children
grow up in a safe family environment

In South Africa, Comic Relief supports 32 projects. In a country where levels of violence are high and many families struggle to provide a sure start for their children, a stand out project for us seeks to bring safety and security to vulnerable families. The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund supports families living as refugees, raises awareness of child rights amongst communities and children themselves, and uses sport to improve children's well-being.

Our eight SOS Children's Villages in South Africa are based in some of the country's most needy communities. As well as providing a safe family environment for the children in our care, we help local families provide security and safety for their own children. We do this by targeting families affected by HIV, providing anti-retrovirals and support so children don't become orphaned or find themselves in care-giving roles. We also provide skills training for parents so they can work for a living or run their own businesses. As across our projects, we raise awareness of important health issues affecting families and make parents and children aware of child rights.


Three SOS young people complete vocational training
These young people are learning skills for work at the SOS Vocational Training Centre

Many people think that Comic Relief only supports projects in Africa and the UK – actually, they fund organisations around the world. In India, they support twelve projects, many of which aim to improve opportunities for India's many impoverished children. The Magic Bus project focuses on helping provide under-25s with skills for work. Many youngsters lack access to training such as this and this is a major reason why families get stuck in a cycle of generation poverty. By building soft workplace skill such as confidence as well as the hard skills they need for the local job market, Magic Bus helps young people take that crucial first step onto the employment ladder.

Again, skills training for teenagers and young adults is a priority for us. At the core of our work is the well-being of the child – but children can only benefit in the long-term if today's youngsters grow up into successful adults so they can build a stable home for the next generation. And a happy, healthy childhood is not just about the here and now, but about giving children the building blocks for a stable future. We believe that every child should get the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and ambitions for the rest of their lives. In India, most of our Children's Villages have their very own vocational training centres, where young people from the Village and the surrounding community come to learn skills relevant to the local job market. When they are ready for work, we help them find the job that's right for them.

Has SOS Children ever benefited directly from Comic Relief?

Not to date. But in 2010, the BBC screened the story of Esther and Tino, two sister from Zimbabwe. Aged just nine, HIV-positive Esther was forced to care for her mother in her last days, while also looking after her sister Tino. After their mother's death, Esther and Tino entered the care of their uncle, but he did not provide adequate support, often leaving them outside for long periods in the heat of the day.

When filming ended, the production crew consulted the uncle and they got in touch with SOS Children to find a better home for Esther and Tino. Today, they live in the Children's Village in Bindura. A year after the original documentary, Comic Relief screened an update looking how life had improved since they joined the Village.

We've put together the highlights for you:

Why are we promoting Comic Relief?

You might well ask! Comic Relief and SOS Children share many of the same goals, but we work in very different ways, and we know that different people have different priorities.

We hope that for some people, child sponsorship with SOS Children might prove a more appropriate way of giving. Learn how you can give a vulnerable child a happy, healthy childhood by sponsoring with SOS Children, or – if you're ready – click the button below to sponsor today:

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