Don’t lose focus on 200 million children in distress worldwide:
Dr. Dereje Wordofa, President, SOS Children’s Villages International
Dr. Dereje Wordofa is currently on a visit to Bengaluru and spent a day at the campus of SOS Children’s Villages, Bannerghatta
BENGALURU / November 27, 2021 : Dr. Dereje Wordofa, President of SOS Children’s Villages International, has said there are 200 million children in distress across the world, including children without parental care. While SOS Children’s Villages of India has reached out to over a million children through its advocacy, family strengthening and family-like care programmes, that is clearly not enough. “We all need to deepen and strengthen existing partnerships with governments, institutions and partners, as well as forge new partnerships to make a difference in the lives of millions of more children worldwide, including in India,” he said.
Dr. Dereje Wordofa is currently on a visit to India. He spent a day at SOS Children’s Villages at Bannerghatta, Bengaluru, which is home to more than 100 children without parental care. Hailing from Ethiopia, Dr. Dereje Wordofa has been the President of SOS Children’s Villages since June 2021 when he was elected by the General Assembly, the organisation’s highest governance body. He is the fourth president in the 70-plus-year history of SOS Children’s Villages. Prior to joining SOS, Dr. Wordofa’s career took him on a journey from being a programme officer in the field to a diplomatic role as the United Nation’s Assistant Secretary General of the UN Population Fund.
Dr. Dereje Wordofa said: “An estimated 153 million children, worldwide, are orphans; across the globe, there are more than 160 million child labourers, accounting for almost 11% of children. Nearly half of all deaths in children under the age of 5 can be attributed to undernutrition, resulting in the unnecessary loss of about 3 million young lives a year. These are not mere figures; these are lives; these lives constitute our future; the future of nations and the world. There is an ongoing, much-need collective effort from individuals, organizations, agencies, governments and such, to take care of these children. However, as the figures reflect, so much more needs to be achieved, and this too at a sustained, yet accelerated pace.”
The journey of SOS Children’s Villages in India began in 1964. Today, the institution is present in 32 States and Union Territories of the country, serving more than 30,000 children each year. “This just goes to establish our strong bond with India. However, there is so much more that needs to be done, for which we are actively welcoming partnerships and collaboration at various levels, as we understand the need for a collective effort,” he added.
SOS CHILDREN’S VILLAGE BENGALURU
The SOS Village in Bengaluru was established in 1990. Our work in Bengaluru revolves around supporting local children and families. The total number of children under our care, at present, is more than 100. These children reside in above 15 Family Homes, where they are nurtured by about 15 SOS mothers, Mother Trainees and Aunts. All the children at SOS Children’s Villages of India are enrolled in formal schools and even attend college for their higher education.
All festivals of National and international importance are celebrated with great enthusiasm at the Village. This helps inculcate in children the value of togetherness in a family. Apart from this, various activities are also organized often for Mothers and children to have their own bonding time. In addition, regular medical camps are also organized to keep a check on the health of children.
At present, the total number of youth in the Youth House is more than 100. While the majority of our young boys are pursuing their education in schools, the rest are enrolled in reputed colleges for their bachelor degree courses. Special training is also provided to children for various vocational courses.
A number of workshops are organised at the Village and in the communities in order to generate awareness about key social issues like child labour, gender equality, importance of hygiene, female foeticide etc.
FAMILY STRENGTHENING PROGRAMME
The Family Strengthening Programme in Bengaluru was initiated in the year 2003. The purpose of starting this scheme was to empower families who could not sustain themselves on their own and needed support. Under this programme families are supported with financial aid, and also encouraged towards their socio-economic development by working towards developing their skills. This helps people realize their highest potential. At present, there are 476 beneficiaries under the FSP. Once a family becomes self- sufficient, it exits the programme and is replaced by a new family.
Various personality development workshops and programmes are organized in collaboration with SWASTI, Child Rights Trust, NIMHANS, INSA India, and others in order to strengthen the capacity of such families.
Another major part of our Family Strengthening Programme is Self-Help Groups (SHGs). Almost all families become part of a SHG, where people from the same socio-economic background come together to solve problems of each other through mutual help. FSP in Bengaluru has also worked widely towards sensitizing families that fall under its care. Regular seminars and awareness programmes are organized where children and their parents are educated about key social issues like HIV/AIDS, adolescence related issues, gender equality et cetera
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