May 26 2004
SOS Children's Villages starts work in Ukraine
26/05/2004 - SOS Children's Villages started its work in Ukraine in late 2003 with an aid project for large families. An HIV/AIDS counselling centre, which opened in March this year, and the planned SOS Children's Village in Brovary near Kiev add to the social aid offered by SOS Children's Villages in Europe's second largest state. This means that SOS Children's Villages is now active in 132 countries and territories.
Two aid projects in Kiev signal the official start of SOS Children's Villages' work in Ukraine. The two aid programmes are aimed at those groups of the population who suffer most from the bad economic situation and insufficient social welfare: large families and children and youths from disadvantaged families.
The generally difficult living conditions have led over the past years to many people losing their roots in society. Drug addiction and alcoholism, a large number of children either left to their own devices, abandoned or put up for adoption, as well as rapid growth in the rate of HIV infection are all signs of this society in crisis.
An aid programme for large families, most of them belonging to single mothers, has been in operation in the Podol district of Kiev since December 2003. The families with four children or more (benefiting up to 250 children) receive a food package each month. Volunteers help with the distribution, likewise mainly mothers.
The HIV/AIDS counselling centre in Podol, in operation since March 2004, is first stop for children and youths at risk, as well as their parents. Psychological advice is offered as part of the work of both projects; children and youths can take part in art therapy and various other free time activities. The aim is to keep them away from the streets and bring stability to their family lives. The free-time activities have already proved a great success. There are now around 30 youths who take turns to look after the younger children twice a week.
As in many former soviet states, the situation in many orphanages in Ukraine could be described as catastrophic. The construction of the country's first SOS Children's Village should represent the antithesis of these institutions, promote individual, family-like out-of-home care for the country's children and demonstrate an alternative way for institutional "custody".
There will be room to take in around a hundred children, most of them so-called "social orphans", at the SOS Children's Village in the border town of Brovary, around 20km from the centre of Kiev. It is due to be ready by the end of 2006.
Ukraine brings the total of countries and territories in which SOS Children's Villages is represented to 132. Eastern Europe and Central Asia have been areas of focus for SOS Children's Villages ever since the end of the Soviet era in the early 1990's. For example, 17 May could see the opening of what is already the second SOS Children's Village in Georgia; SOS Children's Villages is also doing all it can to improve the situation for social orphans with its numerous facilities in Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia as well as virtually all eastern European countries.