It Takes an SOS Children’s Village

An Outfit Worth Supporting

 BY DAVID S. LEWIS

On a local Saturday afternoon talk radio show last month the hosts emphasized the problematic nature of donating money to help the people of Haiti, and even told their listeners not to give, because monies donated can end up in the wrong hands. This, though, was the wrong message and needs to be corrected on behalf of the Haitian people and Haitian orphans.

Private charities, like government bureaucracies, can become bread and butter industries (and some solicitations are scams). Non profit, for example, does not mean non salaried. Money donated, or confiscated by the government, for that matter, is regularly siphoned off before reaching its intended purpose.

 Certain charities though are exemplary and deserve our support. One in particular was on the ground in Haiti helping the poor before the January earthquake struck— SOS Children’s Villages. Located just 13 miles from Port-au-Prince, near the airport, SOS staff are particularly skilled when it comes to taking in what it calls unaccompanied children and helping families devastated by natural disasters. SOS was there immediately serving those injured and in need of water, food and comfort in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti. And SOS will be there in perpetuity, raising orphans, providing education, housing, and loving care. As a priority, SOS tries to place orphans in the hands of extended family and refuses to separate siblings.

Since 1979, SOS Children's Villages has provided nurturing families, education and medical care to orphaned and abandoned children in Haiti. Since the disaster struck, they have multiplied their  efforts to provide relief to thousands of children and families in need. 

Just a few days after the quake, with good access to roads, and near the airport, SOS began moving ten tons of food, water, medicine and tents to the SOS Village near Port-au-Prince. SOS Haiti facilities, despite being near the quake's epicenter, did not collapse, and prepar-ations were soon underway to provide shelter for children who lost their parents. Routinely, SOS is the first organization given legal authority by governments for the tempor-ary care of children until parents and family status is determined.

With close cooperation from SOS Dominican Republic and that country’s government, SOS set up a Mobile Clinic just days after the quake. The clinic is staffed by the organization’s medical personnel and those trained in child trauma. In that SOS has worked with children trauma-tized by war and natural disaster for over twenty years, it is well suited to dealing with situations on the ground like those in Haiti.
SOS, more over, is a force multiplier in the field,  collaborating with with World Vision, UNICEF, and Plan on the Ground, bringing its specialized expertise in dealing with orphans and traumatized children. 

Perhaps the most heart wrenching aspect of the quake is the plight of Haitian children, and that of parents who must watch them suffer from injuries, infections, thirst, and emotional pain. Getting help to as many orphans as possible is SOS’s priority, and we can be sure that monies donated to this exemplary organization help those in need. That need is ongoing in Haiti (and around the world) and SOS will be there, on the ground, caring for and raising children orphaned by the quake, and there are many. There’s is a continuing effort, one that needs support and amounts to more than sending off a check, because through SOS you can sponsor an orphan (or donate directly to the quake relief effort) and visit the Children’s Village to which you have contributed, meeting the child who benefits from your contributions  (as my wife has), exchanging gifts, and getting to know each another. Short of that, as a connected worldwide community that is surprisingly personal and involved with its contributors, SOS will update you by email from Haiti or elsewhere in the world. And as the sponsor of a child, or children, you can follow their progress as they grow and learn. 

Funding is still a priority for this admirable organization and the people they serve, and Haitian orphans will need our support well into the future. Contribute monthly by credit card, if you are so inclined. Don’t worry about the cost, because as you open your heart to the need your ability to give will increase as it flows through your hands.

We can help the people of Haiti, and through SOS we can keep tabs on how our money is spent. By doing so, at least in some way, we serve those in desperate need of care. The thought of a lost child wandering through rubble and in pain, or found and then in need of continuing care, is too much to bear, and if such a thing happened before our eyes we would rush to help in an instant. SOS is there now, doing just that, and they deserve support. Visit www.sos-usa.org or call (202) 347-7920.

 

 

 

 

 

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