05/12/09 - On May 17, Helmut Kutin, president of SOS Children's Villages, will join Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni to open the third SOS Children's Village in Gulu. The opening ceremony will mark a new start for 120 children who will find a warm and loving home and community at SOS-Gulu.
Children eating lunch at the SOS social center in Gulu, Uganda
An SOS social center and medical center are connected to the village and have already opened to serve many local people in need. The other two Ugandan SOS Children's Villages are in Kakiri, near the capital of Kampala, and in Entebbe.
According to Charles Kiyimba, the SOS Village director at Gulu, twelve SOS mothers have completed their training and are keen to begin setting up house with the children they will be raising in the village's newly constructed homes. Kiyimba, an active blogger, writes: "All people are happy, eager, and look forward to moving to the new village. Children, mothers, and co-workers visit the project regularly, admiring the nicely built houses."
Creating a Safe Place for Uganda's Children
The SOS Children's Village in Gulu, in northern Uganda, began in 2002 as an emergency relief program. For years, on a daily basis thousands of children traveled into the town of Gulu at dawn in order to avoid the dreaded night attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). In the course of its violent fight against the government, the LRA terrorized the civilian population. The rebels targeted children, forcing them to become fighters and sex slaves. The SOS emergency relief camp provided assistance to children and young people who escaped from the LRA or were born in captivity and then abandoned.
Signs of Improvement in Northern Uganda
An SOS child and SOS mother in Uganda
The May 17 opening of the former emergency relief camp as a fully established SOS Children's Village is eagerly anticipated by the locally trained SOS mothers and the fortunate children who will receive the treasured benefits of life in an SOS Children's Village. Children at Gulu will enjoy a loving SOS mother, supportive SOS siblings, a warm and structured home life, and a stable community in which to learn and thrive.
Over the past two years northern Uganda has experienced less violence. Children no longer have to march into Gulu each day. Nonetheless, the clashes have not completely ceased, and life remains difficult for many children and families.
Charles Kiyimba, a teacher by training who is excited about his new responsibilities as Gulu Children's Village director, has one wish: "To see peace returning to northern Uganda and children living as children once again."
If you would like to give a Ugandan child the chance to secure a warm home and a bright future, consider sponsoring a child.