March 6 2006
SOS Children's Village Arusha receives a Royal Visitor
06/03/2006 - On 23 February the children of the SOS Children's Village Arusha were delighted to receive a very special guest, HRH Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Maria Teresa. The Grand Duchess who has been patron of SOS Luxembourg since March 2005 was on a private visit to Tanzania with members of her own family when she made time to visit the SOS family in Arusha.
The Grand Duchess arrived at midday just as the children were returning from school for lunch. Most of the children in the village attend either the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary and Secondary School, which neighbours the village, or the SOS Kindergarten within the village.
Prior to going to Tanzania the Grand Duchess had asked her tour arranger to buy some gifts for the children on her behalf and when she arrived at the village, accompanied by her husband HRH Grand Duc Henri, two of her five children, and her sister in law, she presented the gifts - games, dolls, educational toys and, the best surprise of the lot, a table tennis table - to the children. The village in return, dressed the Grand Duc and the Grand Duchess in ceremonial Masai attire.
After the presentations the Grand Duchess and her family toured the village and visited a family house where they had refreshments and chatted about the work of SOS Children's Villages in Arusha.
While there the Grand Duchess noticed photographs of two of the children in the house who, as Catholics, had recently made their First Communion. Touchingly, in an impromptu gesture, she gave each of the two children a Christian medallion to commemorate the occasion - something that will also remind them of her visit.
The royal visit to the Arusha village culminated in a dance by some of the village children, followed by a large group photo with all the children, mothers and co-workers. The Grand Duchess expressed her happiness at having visited the village with an extra donation to be used for the children.
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, who speaks five languages, is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO and has had an interest in the welfare of children for many years.