October 19 2009

Kenyan Prime Minister presides over groundbreaking ceremony for new SOS Children's Village

19/10/2009 - The groundbreaking ceremony for the fifth SOS Children's Village in Kenya was held on 9 October in Kisumu, located on the shores of Lake Victoria. Guest of honour was Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister of Kenya, whose home town is Kisumu.

The proposed SOS Children's Village is located on a hill overlooking the Kisumu airport, and beyond that, Lake Victoria. The land was donated by the local community elders who welcomed the coming of an SOS Children's Village to the area. "We have so many orphans in this area because of HIV and other reasons", said Mr Jack Owiddo, leader of the local Council of Elders.

Photo: Christian Lesske
The Prime Minister of Kenya, Hon. Raila Odinga, unveils the plaque to commemorate the groundbreaking ceremony - Photo: Christian Lesske

Prime Minister digs the first soil
After meeting the Board of Trustees of SOS Children's Villages Kenya, the Prime Minister, an engineer by profession, climbed into the cab of a mechanical digger and proceeded to dig up clods of soil to the delight of a large crowd of public and press. He then planted the first of a number of tree seedlings that will eventually provide shade for the children of the new village.

Photo: Christian Lesske
Children from the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School Eldoret entertain the dignitaries - Photo: Christian Lesske

HIV/AIDS twice the national average
In his speech, Prime Minister Odinga remarked on the need for an SOS Children's Village in the Kisumu area which has the highest HIV/AIDS figures in Kenya (double the national average), combined with thousands of children affected by the 2008 post-election violence. As well as a children's village and kindergarten the project will also house an SOS Social and Medical Centre which, said the Prime Minister, "will be the public face of a much larger family strengthening programme that will permeate the surrounding community, aimed at keeping struggling families together. It will assist up to 6,000 people" he continued, "aiming to improve their social development through free or subsidized medical care, income generating projects, and capacity building within the community". He also stressed that every child should be given equal opportunity from the cradle to the grave, to realise their natural talents and to get quality education.

Photo: Christian Lesske
Members of the public check the architectural drawings of the proposed SOS Children's Village Kisumu - Photo: Christian Lesske

Mr Odinga thanked SOS Children's Villages for accepting what he called a "strategic site" overlooking Kisumu city, and he promised that the water and electricity supply would be connected within the next few months. He anticipated that the initial development by SOS Children's Villages would lead to significant further development within the area.

Local Member of Parliament grew up as an orphan
Also present at the groundbreaking ceremony were two local members of parliament, one of whom, Mr Fred Outa, told the audience that he had been a total orphan and had been brought up and educated by a similar project. "When I see a project like this, I get really excited", he said.

Photo: Christian Lesske
Children from the community look bemused by all the fuss - Photo: Christian Lesske
The SOS Children's Village Kisumu will be built in two phases. The first phase will consist of 15 family houses, an SOS Kindergarten and an SOS Social and Medical Centre. The second phase will encompass an SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary and Secondary School. The project is being financed by SOS Children's Villages The Netherlands.