As many of you know, beginning June 4th I'll be spending two weeks in Kyrgyzstan on a volunteer trip with Habitat for Humanity building houses with the people of Barskoon. Habitat is just one of many organizations working in the country. On this Feel Good Friday, we're going to feature another - SOS Children's Villages.
Their mission statement from the website is, "we build families for children in need and we help them shape their own futures." Further reading explains the organization's history. "The first SOS Children's Village was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in 1949 at Imst, in Austria. Hermann Gmeiner devoted his life to supporting children in need..." Initially focused on children who were abandoned during WWII, there are now more than 2,100 programs in 133 countries.
Villages operate under the family approach pioneered by SOS. Each village is made up of several homes which are run by a child-care professional, who lives in the house and acts as a mother to these children. The children in the house are raised as brothers and sisters and natural brothers and sisters are always kept together in the same home. The people living in the village support each other and create a community together.
There are two villages in Krygyzstan. The one in the capital of Bishkek was created in 1999 and 142 children live in 14 family houses. There are a variety of personal development programs for the kids, as well as an SOS football (as in soccer) team. The other village is in Cholpon-ata. It began in 2002 with only 14 children and now houses 114. Activities and programs for kids in this village include optional English classes. You can read detailed stories about the kids and the house moms on the website.
There are many ways you can support the work of this organization. You can also like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @Kyrgyzstan_SOS, though if you don't read Russian, all of your good feelings will have to come from looking at the pictures.