A Visit to the SOS Children’s Village

It was a last minute decision for our day in Montevideo, Uruguay.  The ship distributed a flyer offering an opportunity to go to the SOS Children’s Village and interact with the kids living there.  So MJ and Carolyn signed up. (The 2 Barbaras were off seeing Iguassu Falls, and they will write their story on our next blog.)

As we traveled to the Village, the Sponsorship Director showed us the area from which the children came.  Carolyn’s reaction was that the word “hovel” was too kind of a word to use in describing these “dwellings.”  By contrast, the SOS Children’s Village brick homes were situated in a park like environment with lots of flowers, specimen trees, and plenty of space for play ground equipment.

As soon as we reached our destination, a few kids greeted us.  More joined us as we walked from house to house, and then it seemed like all the kids came out to meet us.  The word had spread that there was chocolate to be had.  The ship’s larder seemingly had been emptied of night time chocolate squares.

Normally the Village has 85 children residing in 14 different houses, but since it is summer here, a number of children (or families) were on holiday away from the Village.

These displaced children are not available for adoption but have been withdrawn from their birth families for a wide range of reasons, including physical abuse, alcoholism, drugs, or terminal illness of a parent.  In some cases the birth mother brings the child or children to the Village because she cannot take care of them. In the Village, siblings are always kept together within a housing unit.

The SOS concept seems to be a unique one that focuses on “building families” in each housing unit.  Each of the 14 houses has a woman who becomes the “Mother” of the 8 to 10 children in that unit.  Each unit is autonomous with the Mother shouldering all the daily responsibilities that would be normal in any family, i.e., shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and most importantly, raising the children.  She manages the budget, decides what items are purchased, and even the religion of the family.

All the kids seemed healthy, happy, active, and so very loving with each other and with us.  We communicated with the kids as best we could.  Some of them spoke a smattering of English, and we are getting better and better at sign language.

The concept of family and particularly their implementation of it was very engaging.  So obvious was the supportive atmosphere that we sensed in the Director, the Mothers, as well as between and among the children.

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What a marvelous afternoon!  When we returned to the ship, MJ asked the following question of a group traveling up on the elevator: “How did everyone like the Children’s Village?”  One Brit responded with, “It certainly was better than going to see some lumpy ole mountain.”  We couldn’t have agreed more!!


2 Responses to “A Visit to the SOS Children’s Village”

  1. What an incredible experience. The photos you captured of these children are exceptional. I want to bring each of them here to our home. I so appreciate the things you are experiencing and sharing with us. Thank goodness this school exists!
    Stay safe.

  2. Hi MJ & C, What a wonderful way to spend a day. How lucky we are to be born where we were and to whom. The colorful picture on your background page – is that Monti? Nice pic. We are enjoying traveling “with” you. Enjoy those wonderful & leisurely sea days. r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g! Can’t wait to hear the adventures of Igu & BA from the Two Barbs. All the best J&S

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