May 13 2005
Row of official openings in southern Africa
13/05/2005 - The past few days saw SOS Children's Village President Helmut Kutin complete a tour of opening ceremonies in several southern African countries. It started in Malawi, continued in Zambia and ended in Mauritius.
On 6 May, an SOS Vocational Training Centre was officially opened in Malawi's capital Lilongwe, and on the next day, an elementary school was opened in Mzuzu. The SOS Vocational Training Centre has been offering training to 140 young people from the neighbouring community since 2004, in order to compensate for the lack of appropriate and efficient training programmes available in this area.
Especially those young people who have not completed the Malawi Secondary Certificate of Education are given the opportunity to obtain qualifications which will enable them to find work in the local job market. The centre offers courses in agriculture, home economics, metal processing, tailoring, carpentry, cabinet making, brick laying, information technology, and business administration. 24 participants of workshops and intensive courses can be accommodated on site for the duration of the courses.
The vocational training centre rounds off the range of social services offered by SOS Children's Villages in Lilongwe. There is not only the SOS Children's Village, the SOS Kindergarten, an elementary and a secondary school, but also an SOS Social Centre and an SOS Medical Centre, involved in community work with a special focus on offering services to families affected by HIV/AIDS.
The primary school which was officially opened by President Kutin in Mzuzu, the third largest city of the country, is part of the SOS Children's Village. Children between the ages of six and 14 have been attending classes there, divided into eight levels, since the beginning of this year. It has a capacity to take in 320 students, and is especially intended to benefit children from low-income families.
On 9 and 10 May, the row of inaugural festivities in the presence of President Kutin continued in the Zambian capital of Lusaka and in Kitwe. In Lusaka, an SOS Youth Facility and a school were officially opened in the SOS Children's Village grounds. Since the beginning of the year, the school has taught mainly hands-on skills to children from the SOS Children's Village and from socially disadvantaged families.
The highlight of the inauguration ceremonies in Zambia was definitely on 10 May, when State President Mwanawasa officially opened several SOS Children's Village facilities together with Helmut Kutin in the capital of the Copper belt Region. Numerous representatives of the regional and national government authorities and from SOS Children's Villages, as well as many SOS children and SOS mothers took part in the great celebration. The region experienced an economic recession after the price of copper fell which led to the impoverishment of a great portion of the population, and this adversely affected the living conditions of many children.
The SOS Children's Village in Kitwe includes a kindergarten, an elementary school, a social centre and a medical centre. These centres offer support especially to AIDS-affected families who are immensely disadvantaged, both socially and economically.
The official opening of the second SOS Children's Village in Mauritius was scheduled for 12 May. There has been an SOS Children's Village in Beau Bassin since 1991 and the SOS Children's Village in Bambous, the capital of Black River province, started its operations two years ago. Though tourism is flourishing in this island state in the Indian Ocean, its infrastructure outside the more frequently visited areas is barely developed.
There are care facilities for neglected and orphaned children, but these are often over-crowded and their child-care standards are inadequate. In Bambous, 120 children can grow up in a family-like environment, and the kindergarten is open to children from the neighbouring community also.