July 8 2009

A village in Beijing

07/07/2009 - China's capital now also has an SOS Children's Village. The opening ceremony took place on 2 July, attended by numerous guests from all over the country as well as abroad. The celebration's motto said it all: "One world - one home".

Photo: Benno Neelemann
Some 1,400 children are currently living in SOS Children's Villages in China - Photo: Benno Neelemann

With the rate of migrants from other regions of China to Beijing increasing at a worrying rate, the need for care facilities for children whose families are no longer capable of caring for them has grown as well. For the past two years, construction has been going on on SOS Children's Villages' tenth village in China, in Beijing's first suburb, Daxing District. The first twenty children have recently moved in; the number is expected to have grown to a hundred by the end of the year. 

Photo: SOS Archives
Most of the 15 family houses will have families moving in during the next few months - Photo: SOS Archives

At full capacity, up to 120 children will find a new home in one of the 15 light, friendly brick houses. "More important than finding a place in a nice house, however, is finding a place in the heart and mind of a loving mother", as SOS Children's Villages' president Helmut Kutin pointed out. In China, to see children whose families can no longer provide care for them grow up in clear, family-like settings with individual support and the care of an SOS Children's Villages mother is by no means a given.

Children who can, for whatever reason, not grow up with their natural family, are often taken in or adopted by their extended families. If this is not an option, these children - especially those with mental or physical handicaps - are usually put in homes where the quality of the care they receive is insufficient and often given by unqualified staff. Therefore, the ten villages are seen as role model projects for an alternative, family-like form of care that can do the individual child's situation and needs justice.

Photo: SOS Archives
Excitement ahead of the opening ceremony in Beijing - SOS Archives

The head of the Ministry for Civil Affairs, the Austrian Ambassador to China as well as the president of the German promoting and supporting association of SOS Children's Villages, whose donors financed the construction of the village, were the guests of honour at the opening ceremony presided by SOS Children's Villages' president Helmut Kutin.

Photo: SOS Archives
SOS Children's Villages' president Helmut Kutin during the opening ceremony - Photo: SOS Archives

Towards the end of 1986, well ahead of China's ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, SOS Children's Villages managed to reach an agreement of cooperation with the People's Republic of China. In the years to follow, a multitude of projects were put into practice. The school in Yantai, to name but one of them, is the largest SOS school worldwide, with 3,300 students attending and a well-earned reputation of being an exemplary project. With programmes up and running as far as Qiqihar, way up in the North of the country, as well as Urumchi in the West and Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region, SOS Children's Villages is well established in China.

To read more about SOS Children's Villages' work in China, see the related links.