April 11 2006
Boxing champ Klitschko delights children with visit
11/04/2006 - Vitali Klitschko, a national hero in his native Ukraine, surprised children with a visit to the SOS Social Centre in Kiev last week. The former world heavyweight champion boxer chatted with children, helped them with a wall painting and organised a football match outside the centre. He brought gifts and a special friend: 2006 FIFA World Cup™ mascot Goleo VI.
It is often said that "you never stand so tall as when you stoop to help a child." Vitali Klitschko affirmed this maxim when visiting the children of the SOS Social Center near Kiev, Ukraine. Klitschko is a gentle giant who has been a strong supporter of SOS Children’s Villages Ukraine. He attended the foundation stone laying ceremony at SOS Children’s Village Brovary in August, where he pledged his support to the 6 villages for 2006 campaign.
Klitschko brought the children gifts, including the new Adidas Teamgeist™ football, the official match ball of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™. He also brought along Goleo VI, the official mascot for the World Cup. Goleo VI will take up permanent residence at the children’s village in Brovary once the football tournament ends.
Klitschko assisted the children with a large wall painting of houses and flowers. He listened attentively as the children - aged five to eleven - recited Ukrainian poetry, observing, "You can see at once they all have a very positive attitude. They are open to everyone. We just have to help them along in life. They are completely normal children who just happen to be poor and in need of more attention and love."
After a group photo, everyone went out into the fresh air to play football in the back yard. Klitschko divided the children into five-a-side teams. In the meantime, news of the famous visitor spread like wildfire, as neighbours peered from windows and passers-by stopped on the pavement. The children, energetic and determined, ran around with the ball, none of them stopping or ever caring when it landed in deep mud on several occasions. Their hero looked on with delight.
In 2003, SOS Children’s Villages established a representative office in Kiev, starting its first aid programmes in the Podol district with monthly distribution of food packages to large families - most of them belonging to single mothers. Today, SOS Children’s Villages is increasing its presence in the former Soviet republic: "In total, there are currently three projects in Kiev and its suburbs, caring for around 400 children," said Anna Kuptsova, head of the Kiev office of SOS Children's Villages.
Construction is well underway for SOS Children’s Village Brovary, a town of 80,000. Fourteen family houses will be built there as part of the 6 villages for 2006 campaign in co-operation with FIFA. There will be an administration building, a multipurpose hall, a garage, a workshop, a house for the village director and accommodation for the SOS aunts, who stand in when the SOS Children's Village mothers are away. Nearly 100 orphaned, abandoned or neglected children will find a new home in the village.
Vitali Klitschko enjoys spending time with children and understands the needs of Ukraine’s disadvantaged youth. "The roads of Kiev offer many cruel realities, which makes SOS Children's Villages all the more important," he said. "Each child needs the warmth provided by parents and society. SOS Children's Village is making an important contribution: it is working towards a common future."