SOS Children’s Village Botswana – An Update
An Update on Charity Work with SOS Village Botswana
“What the orphaned and abandoned child needs first and foremost is a family – a family in which he or she can develop normally” — Dr Hermann Gmeiner Founder of SOS Children’s Villages.
The SOS Children’s Village Botswana is an affiliated member of SOS-Kinderdorf International, the largest private children’s welfare organisation in the world, operating 2000 facilities in 133 countries.
In over 60 years since the organisation started, the varied and world-wide projects have expanded to include SOS Children’s Villages, Kindergartens, Youth Facilities, Primary and High Schools, Vocational Training & Production Centres, Social Centres, Medical Centres and Relief Work.
The SOS-Kinderdorf Association helped establish the first village in Tlokweng, Botswana in 1987. The local association has subsequently established SOS Children’s Villages and Kindergartens in Francistown and recently Serowe.
The organisation’s mission is to “build families for children in need, help them shape their own futures and share in the development of their communities”. Priority is given to orphaned children declared ‘in need of care’ by the authorities or whose upbringing has been neglected.
Professional foster care is provided in a managed environment with a well-developed infrastructure, where the family unit is recreated in as natural a manner as possible. Each child is given a new mother and a new family of between 10 and 12 brothers and sisters. Each family has their own home in the SOS Children’s Village, which normally accommodates up to 16 houses.
The mother is a permanent reference person for the child in the home. The SOS Mother knows the same cares, duties and joys as every other mother. She is head of the family and runs her own household. She gives the children entrusted to her love, security and trust – the key elements every child needs for healthy development.
The SOS Children’s Village is supervised by a Village Director, who supports the mothers. The male employees in the Village represent the male role model.
After compulsory schooling, during their apprentice or student years, or during vocational training, older SOS youth may move into a “youth house”, which is intended to help the young people adjust from SOS family life to one of self-sufficiency. A youth leader who lives with them is their reference person and guidance counsellor.
Household matters, finances and daily chores are left to the youth to manage themselves. Children and youth remain with SOS until they are emotionally and professionally ready to begin their independent lives, and very often maintain ties with their SOS families even when they have families and children of their own.
The Family House
Every SOS family of 10 – 12 children has its own house, which is a new, permanent home for each child. At the heart of each house is a living room/dining room – the centre of family life. The SOS mother has her own room and three or four children usually share a bedroom.
Boys and girls of varying ages live together sharing the joys, sorrows and responsibilities of family life. The mother runs the house independently. She budgets and does shopping for her family. During a typical day an SOS Mother works within her house’s kitchen with the help of the older girls and boys.
Other children are busy helping to maintain the house and garden, or perhaps playing nearby with their friends. After dinner the SOS Mother helps her children with their studies or reads them stories before tucking them into bed. These children are no longer alone. They can now sleep peacefully with the knowledge and security of having a permanent home.
In every way the SOS Family House resembles our own home and family. Sixteen family houses make up the SOS Children’s Village community. Orphaned children need no longer be housed in unfriendly institutions which offer only a temporary home of less than one or two years .
SOS Village Botswana for Children
In Botswana there are three SOS Children’s Villages in Tlokweng, Francistown and Serowe which in total care for 544 children and youth.
In 1987 the SOS Children’s Village Tlokweng opened its doors with just six family houses. Today the Tlokweng Villages comprise 16 family houses, 3 youth houses, a kindergarten and provides for 207 children and youth.
With the increased demand for permanent home-based care, SOS Children’s Village Francistown opened in 1998. Unlike the other two, it is made of 12 family houses and a kindergarten.
In 2007, after recognising that there is a need for prevention, the Family Strengthening programme was launched in Tlokweng and later was extended to Francistown. The Family Strengthening Programme is aimed at preventing child abandonment. Here we care for children living in either grandparent households or child headed households.
SOS make sure that these children go to school, we complement the effort of the government by supplying the food supplements, clothing, school uniforms and see that their school fees are paid.
SOS also provide psycho-social support that comprises of counselling, life skills and character building through recreation activities. The idea is to keep families from disintegrating, and producing more orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. Under this programme we give services to 1500 children.
In the next update we will discuss sustainability, environmental protection measures, governance, child sponsorship, house sponsorship, recognition of family house sponsors and friends of the program.