Boy and girl picking up autumn leaves - CV Valmiera…
SOS CV. Nanchang
Boy and girl picking up autumn leaves - CV Valmiera
SOS CV. Nanchang
1 Childrens Village
There are 12 SOS Mothers, 5 SOS Aunts and 14 coworkers working together to build homes for 85 orphans now. Among 85 children, 4 little kids are attending the SOS Kindergarten in the Village, 43 students are studying in primary schools, 23 youngsters in middle schools (including vocational schools), 3 students in high school, 12 students in colleges or universities.
It is end of 2008. This year is every special for China. After going through all the hardships and setbacks, we have gained rich experience and become increasingly mature. We still believe that the sunshine will go out after rain. Our kids become stronger to deal with many kinds of thing.
And this year is also amazing for every Chinese people. The Olympic Game was hosted in Beijing this year. We are so proud of to be a Chinese. We have excellent the opening and closing Olympic Game. The flame arrived in Nanchang 05-21-2008. We felt so exciting about it. Our kids participated in many actives for celebrating the Olympic Game. We have other amazing thing is one of torchbearer take her torch to SOS childrens village Nanchang. All the kids see the torch, and share happiness with torchbearer. We will never forget the day the flame came to Nanchang.
The Olympic Game was held in the summer holiday. ALL the kids and SOS mothers pay lot of time on the TV for watching the Olympic game. Most of boys like basketball, football and table tennis. And most of girls like diving and gymnastics. They are nerves for the every competition. We told the kids that we dont care about the result of the match, and we will enjoy the match.
Every summer holiday is the happiest time for the children. The volunteers form Bring Me Hope takes children to MeiLing Mountain (It is near from Nanchang) for summer camp. The summer camp is same as last time. Thats real cool. The children enjoy the time with the volunteers. The children feel happy for play game with the volunteers who come from different countries. They are singing, dancing, and swimming and play games together. The children and volunteers have good day in the Meiling Mountain. They are to be good friends, and exchange the name and address. Every kids are cry when the volunteers leaving. The children are unwilling say goodbye to these kind-hearted volunteers. Everyone is looking forward next time to be together. And every one keep touch with their friends.
And this year we take all big girls to Hangzhou for summer camp. It is wonderful memory for everyone. Our girls are all beauty lady now. They are sunny and energy. There are full with smiling and happy wherever they gone. They give many kinds of funny pose for taking photo. They talk about many kinds of new thing. Just like clothes, cosmetic, pop music or boys. All girls always feel surprise to everything. We are so happy to see that our girls grow up to be ladies.
2 Youth Facility There are altogether 24 youngsters living in the SOS Youth House. In the summer holiday, the Youth house also organizes the youth to country side for picnic. These men can do many things by themselves. They have long time to learn about how to be a man. We are worry about these. They have way that is harder than other boys to go. Maybe they can go well, and may not. We try to give them best circumstances to grow up. They are all good boys, and we trust that the youth will do better and better.
3 Kindergarten There are 70 kids in the kindergarten, and there are 4 kids that come from our village. They have got many little friends, and enjoy the time in the kindergarten. In the 2006, the kindergarten organizes an activity to build up the confident of children. The children have different characteristic. Maybe he is no good at study, but he is good at singing. We will tell him to say I am best in singing then we will asking him to show to his parents, and encourage him to do better. We also pay attention to the teaching skill of teaches. Having open class, its make teacher learn good way from other teacher to improve herself.
Three girls with a cake and flowers - CV Dren
There are not many visitors coming up to Marina's house in the hills near the town of Gabrovo. The few people walking the narrow steep road are either shepherds or hunters. So, when Marina saw two young women climbing upward, she thought these two chose the wrong footwear for hiking.
Family strengthening in Bulgaria
During 2007 over one hundred families benefited from the two family strengthening programmes in Bulgaria. The good outcome and positive reactions of the beneficiaries called for the setting up of two new programmes which would reach at least 150 more families at risk of abandoning their children.
Marina's house would be a comfortable two-storey family home if poverty, time and family disputes hadn't poured over it in all their ruthlessness. "My husband's sibling owns half of the house," explains Marina shyly. "We can't use half the house." That half is not finished and the rest can hardly be called a home.
Two rooms and an outdoor toilet comprise Marina's dwelling. The girls sleep, eat, do math problems and draw in the only heated room of the house. The charred walls and mouldy furniture give out an unbearable stench despite the constant draught coming from the broken window. Problems are manifold.
Between 2004 and 2006 SOS Children's Villages Bulgaria ran small scale prevention of child abandonment programmes in four locations: Dren, Trjavna [where there are also SOS Children's Villages; editor's remark], Sofia and Gabrovo. These programmes answered immediate needs ranging from keeping children in school to working with disabled children and their parents.
The lessons learned and the contacts established within these three years made way for setting family strengthening programmes which offer families a wide scope of services and include partners of other NGOs and local authorities. What this exactly means and how it is executed, Marina experienced firsthand.
When trouble strikes...
The nightmare that was her first marriage left Marina with little hope in the system or anyone's helping hand. Glad to get out of it, she set up a poor, but content life with her new husband and their newborn twin girls. But, a few years into the marriage her husband and sole income provider was arrested. Marina's firm belief in the innocence of her husband was not crushed even when he was sentenced.
Alone, jobless and with piling bills, Marina's case was registered as family at risk of child abandonment with the local child protection department and informed of available support programmes. A short time later, the two young women from the beginning of the story came climbing up the steep road in unfitting footwear.
Mariana and Zvezdelina, the two SOS co-workers of the family strengthening programme in Gabrovo, are experienced social workers. Their work begins when families, such as Marina's, are identified as in risk of being separated from their children.
Someone offers a helping hand
"In reality, the families should choose between the different available support programmes, but they rarely do," explains Mariana, adding that many fail to seek help because of embarrassment or simply lack of time in the daily pursuit of basic necessities.
Marina's family was one of the forty families which the social workers of the programme visited offering support in obtaining medical and educational benefits for the children, material support and counselling. In addition, Marina also was supported in finding a job as a janitor in a local primary school.
"Parents often find themselves lost in the complicated social system," explains Zvezdelina. Many are unaware of the benefits they are entitled to and which would save them the scarce income they have. Thus, the social workers often have to accompany parents in visiting different institutions to claim their rights.
On the other end
At the same time, in a small community outside the capital Sofia, another family of six struggles for bare survival in front of the eyes of the social services.
Svetla lives in an unfinished two storey house where only one room is inhabitable. Both she and her husband are unemployed. Svetla's eldest daughter wasn't enrolled to secondary school and her two middle children didn't attend kindergarten. The youngest, a baby, slept on a lumpy couch as cradles were too expensive.
"In addition to the hardship Svetla's family was experiencing, her kitchen was torched one night last year," explains Bobi, the social worker of the programme in Sofia. Svetla suspects arson though she can't prove it. Her attempt to put it out almost claimed her life leaving her with scars.
The fire set back the already poor family and there was no one around to help despite the fact that the social services for the area are located just across the street.
Involving the community
When Svetla's case became known to the family strengthening co-workers, she was immediately offered to be included in the programme. The problems in this family were manifold starting from poverty and going as far as severe domestic violence. Svetla's sole disciplinary measure for her children was a slap on the face.
"It took minutes to realize that their needs are great," explains Bobi. This is where the partners of the programmes come in. Both the state agencies and several NGOs are involved in providing psychological counselling and teaching parental skills.
Educational facilities are contributing with providing free of charge schooling and tutoring. In addition various specialists are involved such as speech therapists, family doctors and others. At times it takes even unorthodox ways to determine the actual problems and needs of the families.
"Not every family opens up completely," Bobi goes on to add "Often we have to talk to relatives or neighbours to find out things which the parents are omitting. This is always done with absolute confidentiality and for the sole purpose of tailoring the best methods for support."
The process documented
The support to each family in the programme is regulated with a contract which clarifies the roles and responsibilities of both parties. Family development plans are compiled and goals are agreed jointly. In average it is forecast that each family would be supported for three years.
The social workers review the achieved goals regularly through visits and talks with the partners and intervene with additional support when necessary. Also, regular evaluations are made to determine the development progress and project new goals. The families also get their say.
Each family evaluates its own progress, but also gives feedback to the provided support. This allows for constant improvement of services and quicker achievement of the ultimate goal: strong independent families where children's needs are met and where they grow with love and security.
Behind the scenes
But, an important element which can not be found in the reports and evaluations are the small moments of human closeness and unselfish generosity that give hope, enthusiasm and restore the parents' belief in a better tomorrow.
These are moments like when Zvezdelina and Mariana visited Marina's family with the pedagogue of SOS Children's Village Trjavna. A passionate mountaineer, he immediately organized his fellow mountaineers to help Marina with supplies of firewood. Then, when the varnish for her house was supplied, Marina was surprised with a small painting campaign which transformed her modest home to a decent dwelling.
Three hundred kilometres away a baby smiles. The social worker Bobi sings a lullaby to a sleeping baby in a pram. We learn from Svetla that Bobi gave her the pram. "When I was buying it, I wasn't sure whether to go for the tougher more expensive ones or something that would just get me through the first two years," smiles Bobi. "I guess I felt that that not only my son would sleep in it."
Marina finds it difficult to express how much the programme means to her. Through teary eyes she says that a thank-you is all that she can offer as pay-back. "All you have to do is try hard and don't give up," says Mariana to her with a firm yet cheerful voice. "Your and the wellbeing of your children is thanks enough."
For privacy reasons, the names of the beneficiaries have been changed.