June 22 2010

Angelina Jolie visits SOS Children's Village in Haiti

21/06/2010 - SOS Children's Villages this weekend welcomed UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie to its village in Santo outside of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. Ms. Jolie spent the night at an SOS house in the SOS Children's Village. She visited with and brought toys for the children. On her trip she met with President Preval, current and former Government of Haiti Ministers, Haitian Judges and lawyers, U.S. State Department officials, and other NGOs regarding child protection in Haiti.

Photo: Carolina Perez - SOS Children
Angelina Jolie and the children from the SOS Children's Village in Santo enjoyed the get-together - Photo: Carolina Perez - SOS Children's Villages
Preceding the overnight stay, Ms. Jolie held a dinner and round-table discussion that included UNHCR, SOS Children's Villages, UNICEF, Partners in Health and PRODEV. The purpose of these meetings was to study the Haitian legal system surrounding child protection issues and explore mechanisms for strengthening the Government's capacity to address these needs.

This is Ms. Jolie's second visit to the SOS Children's Village Santo in Haiti. When last there in February she met with the 33 children who were brought to the SOS Children's Village after the Haitian government intervened to prevent their removal from Haiti. This weekend, Ms. Jolie learned that all of the children have been reunited with their families and continue to receive assistance from SOS Children's Villages.

During her stay Jolie commented, "That is why I like to visit and support the SOS Children's Villages in the world because I have seen that the children are growing up in a safe and loving environment."

In contrast to an orphanage, SOS Children's Villages is a family-based model of care that makes a commitment to provide each child with a loving mother, home and a future. SOS Children's Villages places a priority on keeping biological brothers and sisters together and raising them in their own culture.

Ms. Jolie enjoyed breakfast in the village. Children from the SOS Children's Village Santo welcomed her with a song in Creole as she distributed toys she had brought for them. One of the children spoke on behalf of the group and told Ms. Jolie how happy they were that she had visited the village again.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been long-time supporters of SOS Children's Villages. In the past, Ms. Jolie personally visited an SOS Emergency Relief Programme in Chad, an SOS Children's Village in Ethiopia and the couple also visited the SOS Children's Village in Amman in Jordan.

"Ms. Jolie's involvement helps to raise spirits when life has become so hard for children who have lost everything. Her continued support sheds an important light on the progress and challenges all of us face in Haiti,” said SOS Children's Villages - USA CEO, Heather Paul. “With the six month anniversary of the earthquake approaching, Angelina Jolie helps the world remember that the struggle for survival continues on the ground every day. International partners working hand-in-hand with Haitians will be there for many years to come, long after the cameras have gone away."

SOS Children's Village Santo is currently housing nearly 500 children without biological families to care for them. Over the past few months, 160 children who were temporarily in the care of SOS Children's Villages have been reunited with their families. They are beneficiaries of the SOS Family Strengthening Programme that provides food and counselling assistance to more than 10,000 children daily.

Ms. Jolie also toured the temporary shelters for unaccompanied children at the Santo site. They each provide eight children and an SOS Mother with dry, safe housing as the rainy season approaches. About 300 children will be moved into the shelters as added protection against the rainy season.