Last week, I spent an afternoon at the SOS Children’s Village in Kakiri, about 20km north of Kampala in Uganda. I felt privileged to be able to present Bronze and Silver Awards to a host of talented young people who live there.
The first time I heard about SOS Children’s Villages was as a child. We raised money at school to support the work of the charity and I hoped that one day I’d get the opportunity to visit a Children’s Village.
Kikiri did not disappoint. For nearly sixty years, SOS Children has developed an approach based on building a community for children who have nobody to turn to. At Kakiri, the charity provides children with a home, a family and a new mother in the purpose-built Village, where they stay until they are ready for independent life.
The children live in houses of ten mixed-age children, looked after by a house mother. They go to a school on site. As teenagers they move into a youth house, where they begin to learn the skills, behaviours and attitudes they’ll need as adults – and that’s when the Award comes into play. Its simple framework allows the young people to receive recognition for their achievements – and to communicate that achievement to their future universities and employers.
The young people I met were truly inspiring. They spoke of the Award as a life affirming educational experience and their pride and feeling of achievement were palpable.
SOS Children’s Villages currently run 518 places like Kikiri around the world, and 392 Youth Homes, caring directly for more than 78,000 children in 125 countries worldwide. I hope that we can develop a relationship that means that the Award can be offered to all the young people being cared for by them who would like to take part.
World Orphan Week runs from the 4th – 11th March 2013. If you’d like to support the amazing work of SOS Children’s Villages, you can find out more by visiting http://www.worldorphanweek.org/