, ELDORET, Kenya, Jun 23 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has called for enhanced support for SOS Children’s villages in the country, saying they play a crucial role in caring for needy children.
The First Lady applauded the SOS villages, in Kenya and across the world, for ensuring that children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care always have a place to call home.
“As Patron, I encourage more partnerships, more friends and ambassadors to join in and support the great work we see here today,” she said.
The First Lady – who has been a patron of the SOS Children’s villages in Kenya since 2013 – was speaking today when she presided over celebrations to mark the International SOS Founder’s Day at the Eldoret SOS village in Uasin Gishu County.
She commended Dr Hermann Gmeiner, the founder of SOS villages, for his vision and humanitarian spirit that has given children in dire straits a family where they experience love, build lasting relationships and strong bonds of community.
“From that vision borne in 1949, today thousands of children across the world call SOS villages home,” the First Lady noted.
She added: “It is because of this high regard for family and community that many children who have transited out of the villages have been moulded into the upright socially minded adults who actively participate in building our nation.”
It is estimated that since the establishment of the first SOS Children’s village in Kenya 45 years ago, more than 15,000 children have benefitted from the organization’s community interventions of strengthening families, protecting vulnerable children, and providing education and health facilities.
The First Lady also applauded the SOS Board for adopting the family-based model recognised by UN Guidelines for Alternative Care of Children where they thrive socially and academically with hope to reach their full potential in life.
“I want to specially celebrate all the SOS mothers and care givers, who tirelessly go out of their way to ensure that our children are raised in a loving and caring environment. Our children are our treasure and our future,” she said.
During the occasion, the First Lady took the opportunity to interact freely with children at the SOS village, sharing motherly love and kindness.
She also commissioned a new maternity wing of the SOS Medical Centre at the Eldoret SOS village, noting that since the medical facility opened its door in February 2011 it has delivered its core mandate of providing healthcare services to SOS children and families as well as the surrounding community.
“Today we celebrate the centre’s growth with the opening of the new maternity wing. This has been made possible through the partnership and support from Xellia Pharmaceuticals based in Denmark,” she said.
The First Lady observed that the new maternity wing will complement the National Government’s effort to provide universal access and quality healthcare, promote free safe delivery of pregnant women as well as provide ante-natal, neo-natal and post- natal care.
“I am truly delighted that the SOS Children’s Village in Eldoret is contributing towards these efforts. We must continue to work towards eliminating maternal and neo-natal mortality, and HIV infection among adolescents, women and newborns,” the First Lady said.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and Woman Rep Gladys Boss Shollei commended the First Lady for taking healthcare services closer to Kenyans through the Beyond Zero campaign.
They assured the First Lady of their unwavering support in all the programmes she has initiated.
Other speakers including area MP William Chepkut, SOS Chairperson Susan Kiama, National Director Walter Odhiambo and donor representative Camilla Olsen who thanked the First Lady for her passion and support for the general welfare of children, mothers and the youth.