Saturday, November 24, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Cordoba- Aldeas Infantiles SOS

"We were all children once. And we all share the desire for the well-being of our children, which has always been and will continue to be the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind."
We the Children: End-decade review of the follow-up to the World 
Summit for Children Report of the Secretary-General (2001)

Yesterday we had a whirlwind of a day that finished with a visit to Aldeas Infantiles SOS Cordoba. I am so thankful to have finally tracked them down- makes for almost a week of searching very well spent!

A short synopsis of the day´s scavenger hunt:
* a disappointing Internet search for children´s homes in Cordoba
* a visit to a museum in an old Jesuit Crypt
* finding an exhibit of paintings by children with special needs in the crypt
* a visit to the founder of Manos Creadoras (the foundation that teaches these special needs artists)
* Being sent to see a woman who works in the Cordoba Municipality´s Special Needs Department.

Betty (from the Municipality) just happened to have worked with SOS in the past and was able to get them on the phone immediately. Though she seemed to have some hesitations around their work- reservations shared by a few people I have met but have yet to get an honest explanation for- she helped us arrange a visit that same evening. Earlier this week, on November 20, was the Universal Day of Children´s Rights; Aldeas was throwing a celebratory party as a follow-up to a workshop on Children´s Rights they had just finished. They invited us out to be a part of the celebration, clown show and all. Rush, rush, rush- the theme of the day!

An Argentine poster about Children´s Rights. In honor of the Universal Day of Children´s Rights 11/20.
Houses of Aldeas Infantiles SOS
The Aldeas Infantiles SOS mission statement:  
“Cada niño y cada niña pertenece a una familia y crece con amor, respeto y seguridad.” 
Every boy and every girl should be a part of a family 
and grow up with love, respect and security.
Aldeas Infantiles SOS of Cordoba was inaugurated in 2002 and has a capacity for 105 children. It is one of 116 autonomous member associations active in 133 countries and territories- SOS Children´s Villages is a huge organization. The Cordoba shelter is a compound of 12 homes that are located in a neighborhood about an hour bus ride away from the main city of Cordoba. What makes the SOS Children´s Villages unique is their family model. Children who have lost their parents or cannot be cared for by their biological families live in small homes of up to 10 children with one constant staff ´mother´ in each. There are, of course, psychologists, social workers, and other professionals who make up the care team. Although the compound has enough beds for over 100 children, and the website advertises as such, I was disappointed to find that in reality there are only about 30 children currently residing on-site. What I was delighted to find was a group of people absolutely in love with a large group of very complex children. Big hearts and smiles all around for sure. 
Aldeas Infantiles SOS has four locations in Argentina, to contact any of them or donate they ask that you go through the regional office for Argentina. Phone: 011.5352.2000 E-mail: I wish you nothing but luck in getting through to them- since I had such a hard time.

More tomorrow as soon as I can get the Internet to cooperate with me and upload this awesome video, I promise. Including an epic dance party with a whole lot of spirited children... how´s that for a cliffhanger!?

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