One of the families moving into the 14 new family houses - Photo: Ivannia Cambronero
The new SOS Children's Village Cali was built in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Cali, the Barrio Prado del Sur. It has been in use since September of 2009 and consists of 14 family houses for over 120 children who will now live in a family and enjoy the love and support of a caring SOS mother. This is also the case in all the other SOS Children's Villages all over the world, which for 60 years have been giving children what every child needs: a loving home for every child. Except that this village is special in one way, since it brings the total count of SOS Children's Villages in the world to a truly impressive total number: 500.
The official opening ceremony was attended by many distinguished guests, but the greatest number of people that attended the ceremony were from the village itself, SOS mothers and aunts, the children of the village, and the SOS co-workers who had long before started to organise this celebration in the warm city of Santiago de Cali.
In his speech, Helmut Kutin, President of SOS Children's Villages, encouraged all guests to continue their support of the programmes of SOS Children's Villages Colombia, and to do it as committed friends. The importance of the historical moment was not lost on Bjorn Bogason, president of SOS Children's Villages Denmark*, who expressed his pleasure at being given the opportunity to participate in the inauguration of the 500th SOS Children's Village in the world. He ended his speech by presenting the children of the village with a beautiful collection of the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen.
The children performed a series of local tunes and dances and said a few words of thanks to the guests, but the most important thing for them was to show off the village, which they did by simply taking the hands of the guests and whisking them off to explore every nook and cranny. This reminded many of the guests what the real importance of this village is. In the history of SOS Children's Villages, it may be significant because it is the 500th village - but in the children's personal history, it is far more important: it is their new home.
*Donors of SOS Children's Villages Denmark were the main financiers of the project in Cali.