May 11 2006
International Family Day, 15 May 2006
SOS Children's Villages is extending its services through Family Strengthening, a programme designed to provide direct help to children, their mothers, families and communities in need in order to prevent child abandonment. The International Family Day (15 May) is an opportunity to focus on many flowers that have blossomed in the social field, especially in Latin American countries.
(11 May 2006) - Responding to pressing needs in many Latin American countries, SOS Children's Villages has supported children, mothers and families by providing them with low cost services through SOS Social Centres. These efforts began before the inception of Family Strengthening programmes in 2003 on all continents.
As part of the continuous growth of programmes begun in Latin America in 2005, SOS Children's Villages is implementing new Family Strengthening programmes in Uruguay (Salto), Ecuador (Portoviejo), Brazil (Recife), Mexico (Comitán and Tehuacán), Guatemala (San Pablo La Laguna and San Juan Sacatepequez), Haiti (Santo and Port au Prince) and Honduras (Choluteca). The governments of Chile, Venezuela and Guatemala currently provide financial support for the Family Strengthening Programmes to reach sustainability. It is also part of SOS Children's Villages' policy to ask States to assume responsibility for the rights of the children, such as the right to protection. In Mexico, the government has made available communitarian spaces to be used as community centres by providing space for day care centres for children who are at risk of abandonment.
In Latin America, Family Strengthening programmes are based on a community model. The strategy employed is the creation of Family Committees (self-supporting groups of families with similar situations that join together and work for their common improvement). These Family Committees are the owners and managers of their community homes or centres. Community homes or centres are safe places for the care of children ranging in ages from newborns to six year-olds (it is also extended to children up to twelve years of age who are at high risk of abandonment). There, community mothers trained and supervised by SOS Children's Villages are in charge of educational activities, nutrition and health appropriate for the children's age levels.
All children participating in Family Strengthening programmes, whether through community homes, community centres or SOS Social Centres are given the opportunity to maximise their physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and social development through holistic education. SOS Social Centre medical staff or external professionals regularly check the children's weight and height. Medical and dental treatments are provided at a low cost.
Following the model of joint responsibility, the family is a key actor in child development. Families are trained on child development issues and also on children's rights. SOS Children's Villages offers mothers training to improve their skills, and organises literacy programmes at SOS Social Centres. These programmes are determinant for access to further developmental steps, such as employment skills training. Mothers also learn about women's rights, gender equity, domestic violence, health policies for women, sexual and reproductive health rights, safe maternity and child care. The participating women are required to commit themselves to taking advantage of the daily support to improve their quality of life.
Women with concrete proposals for independent enterprises can request interest-free loans and convenient instalment payments from SOS Social Centres, and start up small businesses with the aim of achieving economical stability. These "micro-enterprises" are also being implemented in Africa and Asia.
SOS Children's Villages commitment to ensuring long-term care of children and young people is consistent with the policies of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Millennium Development Goals. These policies help the most vulnerable populations in terms of gender equity, education and health. SOS Children's Villages currently provides support to families affected by HIV/AIDS in southern Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia.
SOS Children's Villages is committed to supporting community work that helps local families become self-reliant and guarantees the well-being of family members, especially vulnerable children.
SOS Children's Villages is active in 132 countries and territories. 445 SOS Children's Villages and 323 SOS Youth Facilities provide more than 60,000 children and youths in need with a new home. More than 130,000 children/youths attend SOS Kindergartens, SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools and SOS Vocational Training Centres. Around 385,000 people benefit from the services provided by SOS Medical Centres, 228,000 people from services provided by SOS Social Centres. SOS Children's Villages also helps in situations of crisis and disaster through emergency relief programmes.
For more information on family strengthening programmes, please contact:
Daniel Dejean de la Bâtie firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: +43 512 3310 - 5129 For more information on the organisation's international work, please contact:
Adriana Pontieri email@example.com
Tel: +43 1 368 2457 - 2185