SOS Children’s villages is an independent, non-governmental international development organization which has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949.
SOS Children’s villages work focuses on abandoned, destitute and orphaned children.
Although Uganda’s living conditions for large sectors of the population remain difficult, SOS Children’s villages have taken on the responsibility of ensuring that children have healthcare, education, and a secure and stable childhood.
Ms Olive Birungi Lumonya, the organisation’s national director says
“Many children in Uganda are living without their biological families for a variety of reasons including; parental separation, domestic violence and neglect, they have lost their parents due to war or natural catastrophes, disease, this is where we come in to help them lead a better life,” .She said the children are supported to recover from emotional trauma and to avoid the danger of being isolated, abused, exploited and deprived of their rights.
She revealed that SOS provides about 756 children with family like care and 14,000 young adults are under the family strengthening programme.
“And we provide a permanent new family, with a ’24 hours a day’ new SOS mother to provide family-based care. Routinely children are grouped into a house with an SOS mother, sisters, brothers, an equivalent of a real home in the community such houses are grouped together as a “Village” with shared facilities and family groups once formed are kept together as a priority,” added Ms Lumonya.
SOS seeks to ensure that all children are protected from all forms of exploitation, neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse through effective national and community based child protection systems.
She said their theme has been; Leave no child behind in everything you do and that coincidentally is the theme for this year’s Day of the African Child; “Leave No Child Behind for Uganda’s Development”.Child protection is a key component of SOS Children’s villages and that the principle is inclusive development for children.
Children should be at the centre-stage of Agenda 2030 and government should ‘ensure that no child is left behind’ in the drive towards sustainable economic development.
SOS Children’s villages contribute to improving the lives of children in Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD), sexual and reproductive health, education, participation and governance and child protection.
Mr Mondo Kyateeka, the Commissioner of children affairs at the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development said Uganda ratified the UNCRC in 1990 as progressive measure to protect and promote children`s rights.
He added that SOS Children`s Villages is part of the leadership team at the forefront of lobbying the legislators of Uganda to:
i) Prioritize children’s issues in all agendas including; planning, budgeting among others as Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate 25 years of the Child Rights Convention.
ii) Put in place and implement legislations that protect children from erroneous acts like inter-country adoption under the guise of foster-guardianship, child trafficking, forced marriages, child labor, among others.
Ms Lumonya revealed that SOS Children’s villages have been advocating the IECD policy and that the Action Plan will ensure integrated services for children from conception to 8 years of age in the form of health, nutrition, education, protection, and parenting support services.
She revealed that several amendments especially in the areas of adoption, child trafficking, child labour among others have been passed by Parliament.
“The reason for our existence is Children. We cater for children from two years to 23 years and many of them have come back to even hold their marriage ceremonies because we are good parents to them,” said Ms Lumonya.
PROGRAMMES AT SOS CHILDREN’S VILLAGES
Family like care programme
According to Ms Lumonya, SOS Children’s Villages builds families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children, “we give them a safe home, together with their siblings, where they can grow up in one of our SOS families,” she adds.
She said that SOS Family-Based Care is based on the following four guiding principles:
a) The SOS Mother, a trained caregiver who nurtures each individual child in her care.
b) Brothers and Sisters, both biological siblings and SOS siblings develop natural family bonds.
c) The Home, each SOS family creates a loving environment marked by safety, a sense of belonging and shared responsibilities.
d) The Village, a safe, supportive community of neighbors, with access to psychosocial support, medical centers, schools and recreational facilities.
Family Strengthening Programme
This programme supports families to take good care of children from their own biological settings to prevent children from losing their protection and care and strengthening the safety nets for vulnerable children and their families. The programme rolled out to Uganda in February 2006 and has spread to all four locations.
Children most at risk of losing the care of their family are target group.
Children have access to essential services for their health development.
Families are empowered to build their capacity to protect and care for their children.
Communities are empowered to respond effectively to the situation of vulnerable children and their families.
Ongoing planning, monitoring and evaluation make the programmes relevant and effective.
A number of schools in East Africa has not kept pace with the high population growth. Demand for education is highly competitive which means that many children are left out, so the SOS Children’s village institutions strive to create secure and caring environments in which children of different abilities can achieve their potential within a broad and balanced curriculum.
Holistic programme of activities
High quality teaching and learning
Child-centered teaching programmes
High standards of skill-based training
Moderate class size of 30-35 students
Sensitive to plight of every child
Composition – 10-20% children and 80-90% community children
Regular monitoring and evaluation to enhance and sustain quality
SOS EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN UGANDA
Kindergarten 4 (Kakiri, Entebbe, Gulu and Fortal Portal)
Primary 2 (Kakiri and Gulu)
“Our aim is to prepare children become respectful and contributing members of the communities in which they live,” says Ms Lumonya
SOS Children’s Village in Uganda operates four Herman-Gmeiner Medical centers in Kakiri, Gulu, Entebbe and Fort Portal. They offer medical services, ranging from curative, preventive and community integrated programmes.
The first SOS Herman Gmeiner Medical Center named after the founder of SOS Children’s Villages International was established in Kauirik in 1991 as a mother and childcare clinic and has grown into a fully fledged health center with; Medical and Nursing care, Examination and Treatment of a number of illnesses. It also offers laboratory services including HIV/AIDS and TB Screening (free).
Antenatal & Postnatal Care
Counseling and Guidance
COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMMES
The Medical centers extend nutritional support, hygiene and environmental health through medical camps and mobile clinics.
She said the Patient/Client categories under the health programme include children, youth, mothers, aunts administrative staff, school medical center, dependants of workers and patients from the wider community.
All the services mentioned are offered by well qualified trained medical staff who include; Clinical Officers, Registered Nurses/ Midwives, Nursing Assistants, Laboratory Technicians, Counselors and a Consultant(Pediatrician) and Volunteers.
Mr. Ssanyu Marvin Livingstone,
Programme Manager Gender & Advocacy says that
SOS children’s Villages Uganda believes that ‘Every Child Should Belong to a loving home’. In collaboration with local governments, line ministries, Civil Society organizations, SOS advocates for the rights of vulnerable children at National and Local levels. We are active members of the Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) and Parenting African Network Uganda Chapter (PAN). We actively participate in development, implementation and review of key related legal frameworks and strategies. We are currently implementing an advocacy strategy (2016 – 2020) focusing on;
Ø Children’s participation
Ø Male caregivers’ participation in family care at family level
Ø Alternative care reform
Ø Employability and decent work for young people
Uganda Health Marketing Group
Government of Uganda
District Local Government
Uganda Muslim Medical Bureau
Joint Clinical Research Center, Mengo
This Article Appeared in the Official Printed Ugandan Edition of The Day of the African Child 2018 Magazine – a publication of the National Children Council (Uganda Government), whose production is facilitated by Post Media Ltd (publishers of www.pmldaily.com).