June 4 2004
Graca Machel visits SOS Children's Village in Tapiola/Finland
04/06/2004 - Graca Machel, the wife of 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, on Wednesday paid a visit to the SOS Children's Village in Tapiola in southern Finland. Ms Machel received a warm welcome from children and employees and was also able to visit one of the family houses at the premises.
Ms Machel was handed a bouquet of flowers upon arriving at the SOS Children's Village in Tapiola, where she held a speech, watched the children playing and visited one of the family houses to chat with an SOS Mother.
In her speech, Ms Machel, the President of the Foundation for Community Development in her native Mozambique, addressed both representatives from SOS Children's Villages and representatives from other non-governmental organisations in Finland. She underlined her pleasure of being among friends from organisations providing help for children in need.
Ms Machel spoke about the importance of establishing efficient vaccination programmes for children and about the issue of global poverty. She said more help should be provided to women in rural areas, particularly in Africa, who in some countries account for 70-80% of those employed in agriculture. If these women's work could become more productive, then they would have the opportunity of earning more money that could be used for education.
Graca Machel was invited to Finland by the Finnish minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Ms Paula Lehtomäki. The visit to SOS Children's Village Tapiola was part of Ms Machel's three-day stay in the country.
Graca Machel's husband Nelson Mandela is one of the most prominent and important friends of the SOS Children's Village work in Africa. He personally spoke out in favour of building an SOS Children's Village in Umtata, in the Eastern Cape Province. Early in 2001 Umtata was opened as the sixth SOS Children's Village in South Africa.