September 21 2005
Series of official openings in South America
22/09/2005 - SOS Children's Village President Helmut Kutin travelled through South America and made stops in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Chile, where a total of six facilities, two SOS Children's Villages and four SOS Social Centres, were officially opened.
His trip started in Venezuela
, where, on 6 September, President Kutin officially opened the newly constructed building into which the SOS Social Centre in La Cañada recently moved. The centre is annexed to the oldest SOS Children's Village in the country, and is located 40 km outside of Maracaibo, the second largest city in Venezuela.
The capacity of the SOS Social Centre has now been increased to allow for up to 120 children between the ages of six months and three years to be cared for full-time and daily. These children are mainly from humble homes; they are put in the early learning programme and are given basic medical care. The parents, among which are many single mothers, can take advantage of a wide array of counselling services in addition to the child care provided, and can also attend further education courses.
More information is provided in the Events Calendar
On 9 September, the festive official opening of the SOS Children's Village and the SOS Social Centre in Ipiales, Colombia, took place. Many patrons and friends from the community, from Europe and from other NGOs attended, as did representatives of the local authorities and people in government circles, in order to witness the opening of the country's fifth SOS Children's Villages.
"I would like to express my appreciation of the work, the commitment and the financial efforts of this marvellous organisation, which has made this SOS Children's Village in Ipiales a reality, and also for the SOS Social Centre in the poverty-stricken community of Tumaco, which is an ambitious project", stated Luis Fernando Villota, the mayor of Ipiales, in his speech.
Helmut Kutin thanked everyone who had made the building of the facilities in Ipiales possible, and, "all the people, who believe in the idea Hermann Gmeiner envisioned many years ago, and who help it blossom, also here in Ipiales." In the course of the opening celebration, President Kutin received the "Keys of the City of Ipiales" from the hands of Mayor Villota.
Ipiales, a city of some 10,000 inhabitants near the border with Ecuador, is located in the state of Nariño, in southern Colombia. The SOS Children's Village has a capacity for up to 120 children, and 70 children have been taken in by their new families up to now.
The new SOS Social Centre, which has been in operation since April, is located in one of the poorest sectors of the city, showing the many social and economic problems prevalent in the region. One of the reasons for this is the civil war, which has been raging for decades, and which is partially to blame for the massive deterioration of the living conditions of wide portions of the population.
The SOS Social Centre is located in "El Chorro", where criminality, unemployment, violence, drug abuse and prostitution are rampant. One of the main objectives of the centre is to support families as intensively as possible in order to enable them to stay together, and in this way secure the lives of the children. This will be achieved on the one hand through full-time care of the children (also of infants) according to the Montessori method, which will offer respite to the parents, and especially the single mothers.
On the other hand, up to 100 mothers can attend training, which will arm them with self-determination and better chances in the labour market. "My husband was killed a few years ago. I have eight children and since I had no money, I started to beat my children. I was desperate and could not think clearly. Today, thanks to the help given to me at the centre, I can produce various things from recycled garbage, and since I visit the centre, I have learned many things, especially how to raise my children with love", recounts a beneficiary of the SOS Social Centre.
Peru followed after Colombia; here President Kutin visited facilities in Lima, Río Hondo and Esperanza, near Chosica. The highlight of the visiting tour was on 12 September, when the SOS Children's Village and the SOS Social Centre in Callao, in the capital of Lima, were officially opened, in the presence of numerous guests.
Now, thirty years after the opening of the first Peruvian village, there are a total of eight SOS Children's Villages and 19 other educational, vocational training, and social facilities in the country. Nevertheless, the need for child care facilities continues to be dire.
Callao is a poor quarter with high unemployment, a high rate of criminality and most of the population have few chances for a better future. These difficult living conditions explain why so many of the children are insufficiently or not at all provided for by their parents. The new SOS Children's Village can be a home to 108 children and up to 120 children can be cared for full-time at the SOS Social Centre during the working hours of the parents, who are mostly single mothers. Further education programmes for adults are offered, and a paediatrician and a dentist tend to the medical care of the children who visit the centre.
On 17 September, the South American series of official inaugurations ended in Chile, where an SOS Social Centre was opened in Carahue, in the La Araucanía region. The centre, which has been in operation since 2004, was the logical continuation of a relief effort which was carried out five years ago in order to assist families who had been affected by severe thunderstorms. At the time, SOS Children's Villages assisted 200 families in the small city 50 km south of Temuco, by providing them with building materials for the reconstruction of the damaged houses.
The SOS Social Centre is to provide long-term support to disadvantaged families in the La Araucanía province, which is among the poorest regions of the country, by providing child care for up to 140 children in all age groups up to 15, with further education programmes for up to 120 mothers and with a small health centre offering paediatric and dental treatment.