May 24 2002
Big events before the big event
24/05/2002 - In the run-up to tomorrow's Eurovision song contest, the European pop event of the year, the children at the Estonian SOS Children's Village Keila have experienced their own special highlights. Visits by Eurovision song contestants from three countries and the Estonian hosts attracted a considerable amount of media attention and provided opportunities for very memorable meetings for both the children and the musicians.
The first visitors were internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Annely Peebo and the singer and actor Marko Matvere, who will host the song contest. The stars arrived at the SOS Children's Village, approximately 30 km south west of the Estonian capital Tallinn, on 21 May with a crowd of journalists in tow. Having once lived next door to a children's home, which left him with a sceptical view of institutional child care, Marko Matvere was positively surprised by the family-based care concept at the SOS Children's Village. The two were invited to a family house, where they received a very warm welcome - above all from "little Marco". "Little Marco" is a huge fan of "big Marko", and he picked flowers and was, so to speak, chief of protocol during the visit!
The motto of the next visit by Swedish trio "Afro-dite" was "give and take", and also included a crowd of journalists. The children sang two songs, which they had learned especially for the occasion. In return, Blossom, Gladys and Kayo performed their entry, "Never let it go", (a hot favourite, by the way!) a cappella. Afterwards, the children rushed to surround the three Swedes, asking for their autographs. During their visit to a family house, in the middle of coffee, cake and games, the trio completely forgot about their schedule. This visit was clearly not just exciting for the children, but was also of real significance to the Swedish delegation.
On the next day, the Danish artist Malene W. Mortensen arrived at the village in a yellow double-decker bus, with her band and a number of Danish journalists. Malene's visit began at the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School. The children and young people from the village performed two songs in the assembly hall, and promising nine-year-old talent Teili then sang a solo. Malene's performance of her Eurovision song, "Tell me who you are", was particularly special as the children joined the background singers in doing the actions.
Malene then presented two guitars to the school, which will be very useful - many musically talented children live in Keila. Like Afro-dite, Marlene worked her fingers to the bone signing autographs and visited a family house, which was built with the support of Danish sponsors. When interviewed after her visit, she repeatedly called on others to support the work of SOS Children's Villages.
The final visitors were the members of the Macedonian delegation on 23 May, led by contestant Karolina with Macedonian TV, radio and newspaper journalists. Much to everyone's surprise, the bus was accompanied by the Macedonian Ambassador to Estonia, who is based in Stockholm. After Karolina had been presented with flowers and home-made presents, there were T-Shirts and CDs for the children and a stereo system for the SOS Children's Village! Then came the musical performances, visits to the family houses with the obligatory autograph signing, photos and lively, "cross-border" discussions about the SOS Children's Villages in Estonia and Macedonia.
Memorable visits like these don't only bring immense fun, attention and excitement to the children and provide emotional moments for the guests - they also create immeasurable "publicity" for the work and cause of SOS Children's Villages nationally - and in this case also internationally. Alongside the mega Eurovision Song Contest 2002 in Tallinn, this week's events have been very special and memorable for SOS Children's Villages Estonia.