Children from an SOS Children's Village in Africa - An SOS Supporter's t-shirt from his travels
We met when I was at the Children’s Village making videos for ‘Our Africa.’ I won’t tell you her name, or the SOS Children’s Village where she lives, because identifying her somehow seems like intruding into her life and branding her as ‘in need’.
- 'An SOS child with attitude' – visiting my sponsored child
Peter Law - Director of Marketing & Communications, SOS Children UK
We met when I was at the Children’s Village making videos for ‘Our Africa.’
I won’t tell you her name, or the SOS Children’s Village where she lives, because identifying her somehow seems like intruding into her life and branding her as ‘in need’.
She’s a young teenager looking to find her way in the world. She caught my attention because she’s a bit of a rebel. She winds up her SOS Mother something rotten by not doing her share of the household chores, and by not showing up when she’s due back home in the evening.
Her SOS mother has to go around the Village looking for her. She’d rather be with her friends in the Village, hanging out at their houses, instead of at her own house, doing her chores or her homework.
She’s what you might call an SOS child with attitude.
Like you do, as a child sponsor, I wrote to her when I got back to the UK and thought nothing much about it when I didn’t get a reply.
After all, SOS Children trains you not to expect a response: ‘in some cultures letter-writing isn’t the norm’, they say. Letter-writing indeed! If the Village had regular internet connection, or each child had access to Facebook, they just might communicate a bit. But lack of technology puts paid to that.
SOS Children doesn’t compel children to write back. Once, I spoke on the phone with an SOS Children child sponsor who was complaining she hadn’t heard back from her sponsored child, and that showed the child was ungrateful… That may, or may not, have been true but, whatever the circumstances, SOS Children doesn’t compel any child to write back – that would be intrusive, I think, and maybe make them feel they were objects of handouts for which they should be grateful.
SOS Children also points out that some children, perhaps many children, who arrive at an SOS Children’s Village, have missed out on early years of education. They may feel shy, perhaps ashamed, that they can’t write back in English in quite the same flowing terms that their sponsor has written to them.
So… you can imagine how surprised and delighted I was the other day to get a letter out of the blue from the child I sponsor. For sure, the letter reflected a level of schooling that surprised me and disappointed my Westernised expectations. And it was just a bit too courteous for the delightfully difficult child I remember (I can imagine her SOS Mother looking over shoulder, getting her to start again, saying ‘You can’t write that…!’).
She invited me to write again. I must get around to it soon…
Our Africa is an ambitious project which sets out to let children across Africa film their lives and countries the way they see them. Visit Our Africa.
- Another day - another amazing challenge
Lottie Riddle - Individual Giving Coordinator, SOS Children UK
Charity challenges have never been more popular.
They have been brought even closer to the public’s attention most recently through David Walliams incredible swim along the Thames. On his challenge David had to overcome stomach bugs, unpredictable tides and the aches and pains of swimming 140 miles to reach his goal.
When I joined SOS Children as the Challenges Coordinator a year ago, I had previously undertaken a couple of charity challenges myself. Yet everyday I am inspired by the incredible dedication of SOS Children supporters to climb as high, run as far and swim as fast as is possible to raise money to support the children and vulnerable families in our care.
Everyone’s challenge is different; from running 5k’s, half marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons, cycle races, climbs up Kilimanjaro, treks through the jungle, swims across oceans, drives across continents….the list really is endless. There is no better example of individuals making a difference to the work of charities.
Most recently I have been truly inspired by the dedication of one of our supporters, Matt, who is cycling unsupported around the world.
On 29th April 2008 Matt left his home in Banbury with the “aim of cycling around the world”. Matt has now been on the road for over three years.
Reading Matt’s blog you quickly come to realise that this has been no easy ride. Matt has faced all kinds of challenges along the way – getting lost, punctures, illness, the dangers of cycling on roads with few rules and travelling alone.
Sometimes it’s difficult to comprehend why people such as Matt undertake such a huge commitment to raise money to support others.
Taking just a minute to look at what life looks like for children growing up in Zambia gives a clear picture of the difficulties they face:
• There are 1.1 million orphans in Zambia
• The average daily income is just 60p
• Live expectancy averages just 47
There lies the motivation; knowing you can make a difference to the lives of those who really need it. Supporting SOS Children’s projects makes it worth the energy, the time, and all those aches and pains.
Every penny Matt raises will support the construction of our new Children’s Village in Chipata, Zambia. So far his total has reached over £7000 which will make a huge difference to the community of Chipata for generations to come.
To keep Matt pedalling in the final stages of his ride you can tweet him messages of encouragement @mattonabike1
Team SOS Children
Here at SOS Children we want you to be inspired by SOS Children supporter’s adventures. That’s why we created a forum to highlight your achievements & contributions to our work. Join the fun at Team SOS Children UK.