We visited the SOS Children’s Village in Beau Bassin on Friday. SOS Children’s Villages are run by a renowned international organization known as Kinderdorf International, which has built hundreds of similar centers in dozens of countries around the world.
We arrived at 4:30 and met with the manager to introduce our program and learn about the village. He was excited about the idea of “education outside the classroom”, and gave us a partial list of some of the enrichment activities for residents of the village, which include sports like soccer and volleyball, scouts, and IT courses. He then gave us a comprehensive tour of the facilities.
The village is composed of a number of homes, which each house seven kids and a “house mother”, who is generally an older woman who cares for the kids. The homes are modest, but have all the facilities necessary to be comfortable living spaces for growing children.
In the middle of the village, there is a courtyard with gardens, trees and pathways, and on the far end there is a kindergarten which caters to the general public, not just orphans. Other facilities include several classrooms, a computer room, a larger garden, and a medium-sized reference library with a good collection of technical books. The facilities are very beautiful and well kept, and are in every way a true village, with around 100 kids living together in real homes with real families.
What is most striking about the SOS Children’s Village is the remarkable job they do of simulating a home environment for kids, and of caring for all of their needs–basic, academic, and extracurricular. The difference in approach between SOS and the other orphanages we have seen is vast, and while there is still much to be done at a place like SOS, they are an example of what an orphanage can acheive when it goes beyond just providing housing for children.
We returned on Saturday to watch a soccer tournament in which the kids of the SOS Children’s Village took part in celebration World Peace Day. The kids had a lot of fun, and it was great to see them as a part of a larger community. We will post pictures of the games and of the village soon, as well as a more formal report after we return there on Wednesday.