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President Pedro Pires launches the 25th anniversary celebrations of SOS Children’s Villages Cape Verde

2009 is a year of celebrations and special events for SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde. First on the agenda, was the visit of the country's president, Pedro Pires, to the SOS Children's Villages programmes on the island of Santiago.

Not only does 2009 marks the 60 years of existence of SOS Children's Villages as a non-governmental social development organisation working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children, but it also marks the 25th anniversary of SOS Children's Villages in Cape Verde! To celebrate this silver anniversary, SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde has planned several activities. The kick off of the celebrations was marked by the visit on 28 March 2009 of the president of Cape Verde, Mr Pedro Pires, to the two SOS Children's Villages in São Domingos and Assomada, as well as the family strengthening programme in Praia.

The president was also accompanied by Mrs Madalena Neves, minister of social solidarity and a few other members of his office. Together with Mrs Isabelle Clemence Carvalho, the chairlady of SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde, Mr. Orlando Mascarenhas, an SOS 'friend' part of the honour committee for the celebrations of the anniversaries [the 25th of SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde and the 60th of the organisation], Mr Dionísio Pereira, the national director of SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde, and other staff members from the national office, the whole delegation embarked on an 'SOS tour' day.

The visit started with a stop at the community centre in Achada Santo Antonio, in Praia, the capital, where SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde initiated, together with the community, a family strengthening programme with the aim of supporting vulnerable children in their natural family and community environment and helping the care-givers properly care for their needs. There, the president met some beneficiary families and questioned them on the impact the programme was having on their lives. All unanimously answered the programme was essential to their lives and to the community.

The children also participated and talked to the president about their schools and their hobbies. They were really pleased with the president's visit, who is very admired by the Cape Verdean Children in general, and all child beneficiaries present that day were proud. "It's not every day you can talk with the president!", explained most of them. Mr Pires encouraged them with sweet words and congratulated the programme for its good results, with a particular attention to one of the beneficiary who is one of the best students of the district. "This is a programme that should be an example for other districts", said Mr. Pires, adding " it is not only a support to the families but also an initiative that fills many gaps and helps the state to promote the quality of life in the country".

This was followed by the visit of the SOS Children's Village in São Domingos, where the delegation was welcomed with great enthusiasm and offered a snack prepared by SOS mother Luizete from the 'Luxembourg' house, with the help of her children. Mother Luizete had prepared several delicacies famous in her island of origin (Fogo island - which is also the island of origin of Mr Pires) and on the island of Santiago. The snacks included coffee, cuscus, maize cakes and 'filhós' (fritters).

Luizete and her children were very pleased with Mr Pires visit! Before the family gave him and the delegation a tour of their house, Luizete had the opportunity to talk with Mr Pires about their island (Fogo) and the activities that she develops as an SOS mother. When leaving, the president praised her for the food, for her sympathy and for the affection with which she cares for her children.

The tour of the President ended in SOS Children's Village Assomada, where some children welcomed Mr Pires with a demonstration of their Capoeira skills [an Afro-Brazilian dance form that incorporates self-defense maneuvers, vary famous in Cape Verde], under the supervision of their coach, Mr Diogo, who is also the driver of the SOS Children’s Villages in Assomada. The President was impressed and pleased with the demonstration and asked them to repeat. A request promptly answered by Mr. Diogo and his pupils!

For the event, the village had also organised a photo exhibition showing the work of SOS mothers. Everyone was involved in making this day a memorable one and all were proud to show the good work of SOS Children's Villages in Cape Verde. Bob, a former SOS youth was more than happy to take care of the music animation on that day and entertained everyone with his songs and guitar playing!

In his speech, President Pires paid a tribute to the founder of SOS Children's Villages, Hermann Gmeiner and the work he has initiated, which now helps so many children in the world. He also expressed his appreciation for bringing this solidarity mission in Cape Verde, and emphasised on "the valuable work that SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde has done during these two and a half decades in the country, by giving through its family care model, a home and care to vulnerable children, and also by educating, training, and transmitting them human values such as sharing, friendship and solidarity". He added that "this availability, the willingness to understand, support and take into account the rights of others, in this case children, are very important values that must be shared". President Pires finally concluded by wishing "the administration, mothers, kindergarten teachers, girls and boys a year of great success that will enrich the SOS Children's Villages human heritage."

During the tour, Mr Dionísio Pereira took time to explain in details the various activities undertaken by the organisation in the country. He also explained that the programme of celebrations throughout the year includes a number of cultural activities and recreational activities for the children, as well as workshops on the SOS child protection policy and radio programmes.

The programme also includes, on April 16, the official inauguration of the SOS Social Centre in São Vincent (another island of Cape Verde), chaired by President Pires. Mr Pereira, explained that the positive work done by SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde will from now on focus on supporting more needy children and their families in their communities, thanks to the newly built SOS Social Centre in São Vincent and to the various family strengthening programmes operated in the country.

SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde started operations in 1984, with its SOS Children's Village and Kindergarten in Assomada. By the end of 2008, the two SOS Children's Villages in Sao Domingos and Assomada and the SOS Youth Facility in Assomada were home for 176 children and youths. The SOS Kindergartens of Sao Domingos and Assomada counted 191 pupils (12 of them are SOS children) and 1022 children from 296 families were supported through the SOS Social Centre/family strengthening programmes in the islands of Santiago and São Vincent.
The program of celebrations by the National Director of the SOS Children’s Villages, includes a number of cultural activities and recreational sports that includes workshops on child protection policy, children's games, radio programs and others activity.