October 16 2007
Henning Mankell contributes 1.6 million Euros to SOS Children's Villages
16/10/2007 - Henning Mankell is generously financing the construction of a new SOS Children's Village in his second home country, Mozambique. The famous Swedish author will donate SEK 15 million, or EUR 1.6 million for this purpose.
"To help orphans is not a sacrifice for me, it is a privilege", Henning Mankell says, and jokingly he adds, "... what the hell should I do with all this money?" During the past 25 years, Henning Mankell has spent a lot of time in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He has seen poverty and starvation up close. "Here one lives close to poverty", he says. "The level of poverty here is extreme; people are starving." Most of the inhabitants in Maputo live in shanty towns, lacking electricity and water. Henning Mankell points out that there are 800,000 orphaned and abandoned children in Mozambique. "I can not help all of them. But that is not an excuse to not help anyone."
Henning Mankell and his wife Eva Bergman have decided to contribute SEK 15 million to SOS Children's Villages. "I know this is a lot of money", he says, "but I have work, a home, and enough money to sustain myself. I have a good feeling about doing this."
Henning Mankell has donated money to different charity organisations in the past. "It was natural for me to choose SOS Children's Villages", he explains. "The main reason for this is that they only employ local people in each country. This is extremely important to me. Moreover, they are meticulous regarding their administration and finances. There is no waste."
This generous donation will make the construction of an entire SOS Children's Village possible, which is planned to have 15 family houses for 150 orphaned and abandoned children and be located in the needy town of Chimoio.
A kindergarten and a school will also be built in the village for the village children and several hundred children from the vicinity. "Education is important", emphasizes Henning Mankell. "At the SOS Children's Village in Maputo there is a girl, a foundling, who is now starting to study law at university. In some years perhaps she can work as a lawyer for children's rights. And she has first-hand experience that nobody else has! She will have the possibility to help the children in Mozambique considerably. This girl would not have had any chances in life if she had not been admitted to the SOS Children's Village. The children that get this chance will have the possibility to improve their society."
Henning Mankell recently visited the SOS Children's Village in Maputo and met the SOS mothers, and visited the school and the library. He met happy children who were given a new chance in life. "Altogether fantastic!" he exclaimed upon leaving the village. "When you have enough money as I do, it is easy to be generous. I am sometimes surprised that other people with a lot of money don't do anything more sensible than buy another villa at the Riviera. How many villas can a person have?"
"Greed is a big problem. It is better to give money to those who are vulnerable. It is a shame that there are people who need help, and if you think about how things are in the world today, I am pleased to help others. It is my privilege", stated Henning Mankell. "There is a need for thousands of SOS Children's Villages in Mozambique. I have the possibility to build one, so I am doing it."
One week ago, Henning Mankell cut the sod for the SOS Children's Village in Chimoio, located in Tranca Paso, five kilometres from the city in the province of Manica. He walked around for a long time contemplating, feeling the ground. "It is fantastic here", he concluded. "There are big opportunities."
The site is still somewhat desolate, but there will soon be seething life there. The road to Chimoio will be rebuilt. About half a million people live in the area and almost all of them extremely poor; many are directly affected by HIV/AIDS. Tens of thousands of children in Chimoio are living without parents and many are on the street. Young girls are selling their bodies to the drivers passing through town on their way to or from the neighbouring country, Zimbabwe.
"I happened to work in Chimoio many years ago. This was one of the most affected provinces during the civil war. Today, the influx of Zimbabweans into the province puts extra pressure on. This is a landlocked province without the ability to attract tourists and thus less development has taken place. I feel particularly passionate to help the children in this province. The little that we can do, it will be worth the effort in the future."
"I will regularly visit the village, follow up on the development of the children. I want to show that everybody can bring about change."
Text: Pelle Tagesson