A quick separate blog about our tour at the SOS Children’s Village in Cartagena. As many people know they are also on our website as a suggestion to make donations to them. We had arranged for a tour already before we left Canada in spring.
So Tuesday morning we drove to the other side of Cartagena (that was already an adventure with the traffic!) and reached the main office at 10 in the morning.
We met with Paula, who is the assistant to the national manager of the SOS villages in Colombia and came from Bogota. She speaks English very well, so of course that was a big help.
She gave us a brief introduction and with Sandra (I believe that was her name), who works at the office in Cartagena, we got into a van and drove to the southern outskirts of Cartagena, which is the area of extensive poverty.
That’s where they have a day-care centre for 2-5 year old kids who come from poor parents who have trouble supporting their kids. Kids receive meals and social workers support the parents as well with education and job searches. The main goal is to keep the kids with their parents and give them a good start in live.
There were over 200 kids divided into smaller groups and according to their age. The pictures show how cute they are. They were mostly swarming around Heinz, who took the pictures and then showed them to the kids.
The facility was neat and clean, they had toys and crafts and an outside playground.
We spent some time in the upstairs office with the staff including two of the Social workers, who also do home visits and support the families. We asked questions and they also ask us questions. A wonderful dedicated group!
Just before we left the power went out, a normal thing for them, happens a lot they said. Oh well!
Then we drove back into town to visit a foster Mom, who has 6 foster children, who are teenager with the oldest being 19 years. Two of the girls were sisters, the others not related to each other.
With teenagers mostly being shy and self-conscious at first, it took a bit for everybody to start to open up .I really liked one of the 2 sisters, who asked us if she could show us around and was curious about our trip and Canada. Another girl showed us her necklaces and bracelets out of beads that she made, and gave me one to keep.
Paula asked us not to publish their pictures for privacy reasons and they all are up for adoption, too!
After we had lunch at a restaurant together (Paula, Sandra and her husband, our driver) we drove to another foster Mom. She was part of a government run program, that was newly started, with the SOS staff functioning as psychological support only.
It looked like she fosters “problem cases” also for families in crisis with children often going back to their parents when it’s safe again. She was looking after a 2 year old girl that was neglected and found severely malnourished with no hair and numerous parasites. Sad story!
Impressive woman and a wonderfully kind and loving facial expression. She had fostered almost 100 kids and said every time one had left she cried and cried!
After that we went back to the main office. The staff asked if they could take pictures of us and the bikes so after our “photo session” we said our good-byes and left in a somber mood.
It was nice to get a glimpse of what SOS Children’s Villages does with the money they get. It certainly made us stop and think about our lives after witnessing misery and poverty.