, KISUMU, Kenya, June 23 – The SOS Children’s Villages, Kenya joined the rest of the world in celebrating its Founder Dr. Hermann Gmeiner’s birthday with much fanfare to reflect on his humanitarian achievements.
The late Dr. Gmeiner, an Austrian, pioneered the concept of bringing up orphans in a regular orphanage to give them the security and quality care of a proper home and a framework of sibling emotional family relationships.
Speaking at the SOS Children’s Villages Kisumu to commemorate the global SOS International Day, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta called on Kenyans to accord children the quality care, attention, respect and opportunities necessary for their growth and development.
The First Lady, who is the patron of SOS Children’s Villages Kenya, said Children are any country’s treasure and future and therefore deserved all the support to grow up and claim their rightful place in the societal fabric.
She also used the occasion to launch the Kenyan Chapter of the Care for ME campaign.
Care for ME, is a Quality Care for Every Child Campaign launched by SOS Children´s Villages in 2012 to foster research and advocacy at national and international levels, to help realise the fundamental human rights of children in alternative care.
Mrs Kenyatta said the campaign is informed by the results of in-depth research conducted through assessments that uncovered appalling violations of children’s rights across the world.
“The First International SOS Children’s Villages Day was celebrated in Kenya in 1987 and has since then been marked every year with song, dance, sports and cultural events,” said the First Lady.
She applauded the SOS Children Villages founder for his vision and initiatives in 1949 to start the first SOS Village in Austria from where the concept spread all over the world.
“Through these initiatives the organisation has been able to provide an opportunity for some of the disadvantaged, excluded and forgotten children within our society to grow and develop,” she said.
She appreciated the international NGO for working actively with communities and individual families through initiatives that re-enforce the community and family support structures.
The First Lady urged more partners, corporates and donors to come forward and support the work of SOS Children’s Villages in the country. Kenya has five SOS Children’s Villages in Meru, Eldoret, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi where the first home was established in 1973.
The SOS Children’s Villages chairman of the Board of Trustees Martin Oduor-Otieno said the Care for ME campaign has been launched in 40 countries, two of which are in Africa.
Kenya is the 3rd African country to launch the campaign, Otieno said adding the organisation will work with other stakeholders/partners to ensure a loving home for the millions of orphans and vulnerable children.
Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch urged leaders from across the political divide to tone down on their rhetoric so as to lower political temperatures in the country.
Aluoch said tensions building in the country are unwarranted.