Czech SOS children's villages

SOS children's village in Chvalcov (near Kromeriz)

SOS Kinderdorf, the worlds largest private relief organization for children and teenagers, has for the nearly 30 years been building a children's village in Medlany, close to Brno. The village is finally close to completion and Radio Prague's Nicole Klement tells us more...

SOS children's village in Chvalcov (near Kromeriz)
SOS- Kinderdorf offers help to children and teenagers regardless of religion or ideology. At present more than 250,000 parentless children and teenagers are supported by 377 SOS Children's Villages worldwide. A Children's Village normally consists of 15-20 family houses, and each family consists of 5-10 boys and girls and is lead by a SOS Kinderdorf "mother" who lives with the children until they are able to live an independent life. But what is the SOS philosophy? Lenka Pospichalova is the director of the SOS children's villages in the Czech Republic.

"We find a mother to head the house and the kids are chosen by the mother. The mother is not a baby sitter, she doesn't have set working hours, she plays the role of a real mother she lives with the children and will continue to live with the children until they are grown. We have some mothers who now have 20 grandchildren and so the relationships remain. For sure it is professional care but it is very much about the feeling and relationship with the children which an orphanage, as in institution excludes."

How does the organization find women who are interested and suitable?

"The woman usually come to us. But it's not simple, sometimes we get up to 200 applicants from which we will choose only 4 women to enter the program and the courses that prepare them. It is work but it is also a life with these children so the woman must decide if she will be willing to overlook her own problems and want to help children. It sounds simple but it is not so simple to find women who are equipped and who have really decided."

Two SOS children's villages already exist in the Czech Republic and so with the completion of Medlany there will be three. The village in Medlany has been a long time in the making - it was started in the 1970s but was halted by the state and construction did not resume until 1989. By 1996 two houses were built and used for training purposes, and plans to build 8 family homes to house 56 children were made. Sona Hyska is an employee of the SOS children's villages in the Czech Republic and describes the family homes.

"When the village is completed in each house will live one mother and 5 to 7 children. The set up is similar to other SOS villages. The house's ground floor will have a kitchen, a living room, a dinning room that accommodates family activities and often on this floor is also a guest room. On the first floor the are the children's rooms. Once the house is complete and fully functional then it will look like a regular family home just it will have more things; chairs, beds and such."

To finance all this is, of course, not an easy task. With the cost of the Medlany village estimated at 60 million Czech crowns, most of the funding must come from various sources. SOS children are supported by several "godparents"- since the monthly contribution of one sponsor is often not enough - but they are also financially supported by the state.

Author: Nicole Klement
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