Boy looking out of window with painted Xmas ornaments Pristina,…
Family-based care at SOS Childrens Villages
Boy looking out of window with painted Xmas ornaments Pristina, Kosovo
Family-based care at SOS Childrens Villages
An increasing number of children worldwide are in need of alternative care solutions. Although accurate figures are not available, it is estimated that one million children were orphaned over the past decade as a result of wars. Some 14 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/Aids with the figure expected to rise to 25 million by 2010. Furthermore, a growing number of children have lost the care of their families for reasons ranging from natural disasters to personal tragedies.
Every individual child
In view of the mounting numbers of children lacking adequate parental care, countries across the globe are in need of a wide range of suitable alternative child care options, which must respect the needs and rights of the individual child. A variety of solutions is necessary because many of these children cannot rely on their extended families for long-term care, nor is adoption or foster family care possible for all. Family-based care, as provided by SOS Childrens Villages, is a suitable solution for children without such alternative safety nets.
According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the family is the fundamental group within a society that provides the natural environment for the growth and well-being of children. When a child loses its biological family the best possible alternative is care that is family-based. A family is a living community consisting of people of different generations who are related to each other biologically, legally or socially, and in which every member takes a unique position. Families are not isolated but are embedded in within a wider community that is also essential for a childs development.
Since its beginnings in 1949, SOS Childrens Villages has pioneered alternative forms of family-based child care that are, today, widely taken for granted. The organisations child care model respects the needs and rights of the individual child within a family setting, promoting the childs talents and development while taking his or her cultural background and national community into consideration.
The family: foundation for life
SOS Childrens Villages provides a long-term family-based environment by providing each child with a family house, where girls and boys of different ages grow up together with a parent, who is a child care professional with whom the children can form a resilient, reliable and unique relationship. For social, cultural and legal reasons, most SOS parents today are women although the profession has been opened to married couples and men in many countries. Family-based care at SOS Childrens Villages also provides quality training for all its carers as well as a professionally organised network of support on which they can rely.
Within their own houses, SOS families can autonomously organise themselves as biological families do, and experience a sense of safety and belonging while sharing responsibilities. Ten to fifteen such families live within an SOS Childrens Village in an environment of a manageable size that is based on solidarity, while simultaneously living openly and homogeneously with the surrounding neighbourhood.
At SOS Childrens Villages, biological siblings are not separated and continuous contact is kept with the childs biological family whenever possible. Careful attention is, therefore, required at the admissions process, in which the childs individual history and background are evaluated, in order to ensure the childs personal requirements are properly met. The ultimate goal of family-based care at SOS Childrens Villages is to ensure the social, cultural and economic integration of the children in its care.
Co-operation between SOS and Habitat for Humanity. Construction of simple family houses in Nepal for local families.Woman with baby in front of her new house near CV Itahari
Safe from the monsoon
Simple family houses are being built in Nepal in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity *. They represent a specific way in which SOS Childrens Villages is supporting local families. Joint projects are planned in Romania, Poland, Armenia, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Zambia and Mozambique.
Tara Choudhury, a single mother with three children has been living in a dilapidated old house for three years. The holey straw roof and the woven reed walls of her house gave her small family more worries than protection. Taras chances of seeing an improvement in her living conditions were not great when SOS Childrens Village Itahari launched a programme in her neighbourhood to reach out to low-income families.
The programme, which SOS Childrens Villages Nepal is running with Habitat for Humanity, gives local families the chance to increase their income, to renovate their houses or build a new family home. The families can for example obtain a small loan to set up their own business, breed animals or purchase a rickshaw.
Habitat for Humanity is helping out with the following plan to construct houses: a group of twelve families is pooling their savings of around six months for the construction of a family house. As soon as this money is available, Habitat for Humanity will contribute twice as much again. This will mean that it is possible to begin construction work on three houses at the same time. Six months later, work will start on three more houses. Two and a half years later, each of the twelve families involved will have their own house.
This means that the following financing is possible: 1/3 own capital, 1/3 loan from Habitat for Humanity, 1/3 personal contribution of the homeowner in the form of materials and assistance. The guaranteed preliminary financing provided by Habitat for Humanity in partnership with the Canadian Architects Fund Trust is interest free.
Tara therefore found a way to put what her family had wished for a long time into practice: she received 15,000 rupees in financial assistance from SOS Childrens Villages, her brothers helped with the construction work and were even able to reuse materials from her old house. Tara happily sums it up: "I have again and again tried to build a simple house. The support of SOS Childrens Village Itahari has meant that Ive now been able to do this. My family is now safe from the monsoon in my lovely house that has sturdy bricks and a tin roof."
Nine houses have so far been completed at Itahari and 29 are still under construction. SOS Childrens Village Nepal plans to build around 100 houses by December 2008 as part of its family strengthening programme. (dd)
* Habitat for Humanity is an NGO that has been dedicated to helping people across the world to have a decent place to live since 1976.