September 24 2002
Six official openings in Africa
24/09/2002 - A number of SOS Children's Villages are being officially opened within just two weeks in western and southern Africa. Gabú in Guinea-Bissau marked the beginning on 21 September, two days later the opening of the SOS Children's Village in N'Zérékoré in Guinea was on the agenda, during the next few days village inaugurations will follow in Liberia, Swaziland, Malawi und Mozambique.
Guinea and Liberia
Malawi and Mozambique
His tour through the African continent will take SOS Children's Village President Helmut Kutin from the Cape Verde Islands to Mozambique. Besides attending opening ceremonies, visiting the children, awarding long-serving SOS mothers, talks with the relevant authorities and political decision-makers and visits to projects in a number of countries are planned.
The succession of official openings began on 21 September in Guinea-Bissau. Construction work on the country's second SOS Children's Village in Gabú, situated approximately 200 km east of the capital Bissau, was delayed by political and social unrest in 1997/98. In October last year, the SOS Children's Village, which includes ten family houses, a school open to the local community and a kindergarten, could finally open. The work of SOS Children's Villages in Guinea-Bissau has, for a long time, been subjected to considerable difficulties. Negative climax was when the children and co-workers at SOS Children's Village Bissau were forced to evacuate to neighbouring Gambia in 1998, where they had to stay for a year before they could return.
Guinea and Liberia
In Guinea, SOS Children's Village N'Zérékoré in the far southern-east of the country was officially inaugurated on 23 September - more than ten years after the opening of the first SOS Children's Village in the capital Conakry. Alongside the SOS Children's Village, which can provide a home for around 100 orphaned and abandoned children, educational and social programmes reach out to the local neighbourhood through an SOS Kindergarten for 100 children and an SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary School.
On 25 September the noteworthy opening of the SOS Children's Village in Liberian Juah Town will take place. For more than ten years, all of the country's SOS Children's Village facilities experienced the disastrous effects of a bloody civil war. Building complexes destroyed, temporary closure of facilities, long-term emergency relief for thousands of victims of war have characterised the work of SOS Children's Villages in Liberia, which in spite of the urgent state of emergency was never abandoned. Just before it was due to open in 1990, the SOS Children's Village in Juah Town in "Grand Bassa County" found itself at the centre of the outbreak of civil war. The village including medical station, kindergarten and primary school were used by various troops as a hideout and after seven years was left run-down and in a state of neglect. After a cease fire and as the political and military situation gradually stabilised - which still has to be seen as relative - renovation work began on all of the SOS Children's Village facilities in Monrovia and Juah Town. In mid 2000 renovation work was completed and Juah Town was - more than ten years after laying the foundation stone - finally occupied by orphans and their SOS mothers. The kindergarten and primary school could also open their doors.
Nhlangano in Swaziland is the scene of the next village opening on 27 September. Swaziland, like many countries of southern Africa confronted with the grave consequences of HIV/AIDS, needs a massive expansion of its social infrastructure to provide adequate care for the many orphans and families affected by AIDS - and in addition is also fighting a food crisis. The SOS Children's Village in Nhlangano is, alongside Mbabane, the second project of its kind in Swaziland. With around one hundred children, the children's village is already full; people from the local community attend the kindergarten and a small clinic. Co-workers are currently running an emergency food distribution programme in Nhlangano to support families in need; the SOS Social Centre in Mbabane is responsible for running a family-care programme to accompany HIV/AIDS affected children and their families.
Malawi and Mozambique
Helmut Kutin will open Malawi's second SOS Children's Village in Mzuzu in the north of the country in the presence of President Bakili Muluzi and his wife and SOS Children's Village patron Chanil Muluzi. The SOS Children's Village, complete since the beginning of the year, will be able to take in 150 children. 75 children will be taken care of in the neighbouring kindergarten, a primary school for 600 children is planned in a second phase of construction. Malawi's population is particularly suffering from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the current food shortage is intensifying the situation. SOS Children's Villages is therefore running an extensive food programme as well as a long-term AIDS outreach programme at the SOS Medical Centre in Lilongwe.
The series of openings will come to a close in Pemba in Mozambique. Joined by President Joachim Chissano and his wife Marcelina, Helmut Kutin will officially open the SOS Children's Village which is located approximately 2,000 km north east of the capital Maputo. The SOS Children's Village in Pemba, the third in Mozambique alongside Maputo and Tête, is located in a rural setting. The construction of an SOS Medical Centre, an SOS Kindergarten for 100 children and a large SOS Hermann Gmeiner School for around 1,000 pupils will considerably improve the currently inadequate provision of social services, all of the facilities will be used by the local population.