June 26 2003
SOS Children's Villages vows to help 100,000 children facing abandonment
26/06/2003 - SOS Children's Villages vowed today to further develop its worldwide efforts to prevent child abandonment, when representatives from over 100 countries convened for the organisation's 17th General Assembly in Innsbruck, Austria.
Child abandonment is an issue of growing global concern and one of the organisation's priorities for the coming years. Through various prevention programmes in many of the 131 countries and territories where it is represented, SOS Children's Villages will help 100,000 more children at risk of losing the care of their families by 2008.
Children particularly affected are from poverty and crisis-stricken regions, where 1.2 billion people live on less than one US dollar a day. Of these, some 600 million are children under the age of five. In Latin America, Africa and Asia, an estimated 106 million children under the age of 15 will be orphaned by 2010. But above all, the problem is particularly critical in Africa where 14 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. This figure is expected to rise to 25 million by 2010 (UNICEF).
"Over the past years, we have successfully supported families worldwide with self-to-self help programmes through our Social Centres. We would like to use the experience gained to extend this programme within our organisation," said SOS Children's Village President Helmut Kutin.
SOS Children's Villages aims to strengthen socially and economically disadvantaged families and thus enable them to care for their children. These are families stretched to their limits and mostly headed by a single mother, grandparent or older sibling. Currently, the organisation is helping more than 50,000 children worldwide through its family based programmes and its villages and over half a million people through its social, medical and educational programmes.
Among other activities, SOS Children's Villages both provides day care services and supports single mothers in organising their own community centres. Training courses and loans are also offered to improve the income of single mother headed families, as are courses on how to better care for children in terms of nutrition, health and the development of physical, mental and social skills.
In the worst AIDS-hit regions of the world in southern and eastern Africa, SOS Children's Villages has launched programmes for children living in households severely affected by the disease. SOS Children's Villages is helping families with school fees, health care, housing and sanitation. Counselling is also given on issues such as AIDS/HIV prevention and income generating activities.
Leutloa Moteetee, the Regional Director of SOS Children's Villages in southern Africa, said: "In response to this enormous challenge, we as an organisation in the region aim to significantly increase our impact by reaching at least 20,000 orphans and other vulnerable children within the next three years."
In Venezuela, a country of 24 million in which 10 million live in extreme poverty, SOS Children's Villages is carrying out its prevention work to help communities, families, women and mothers and children. Eva Kieczka, the National Director of SOS Children's Villages Venezuela, said: "Our goal is to strengthen communities and families in extreme poverty and difficult social conditions and thus enable them to keep their children at home and provide them with the care required."
The General Assembly was last staged in 1998 and is hosted by SOS-Kinderdorf International, the umbrella organisation of SOS Children's Villages. At the 2003 meeting held in Innsbruck, Austria from 26 to 28 June, delegates will confirm the direction of the organisation's future work and elect a new Board of Directors. The following new members will be officially welcomed to SOS-Kinderdorf International: Liberia, Guinea, Zanzibar, Belgium, Macedonia, Cambodia, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.