October 1 2008

International sports stars visit SOS Children's Villages

SOS Children in the SOS Children's Village of Pushkin kicked the ball around with football superstar Andrey Arshavin, while children in the Children's Village of Bukavu got the chance to race Olympic silver medalist Kim Gevaert.


Photo: SOS Archive
The young "shooting" star was warmly welcomed by the children - Photo: SOS Archive
The children of the SOS Children's Village in Pushkin, Russia, are not likely to forget the 22nd of September 2008! After all, how often do you get to play soccer with (or even better, against!) an international football superstar of the likes of Andrey Arshavin, one of the sport's best-known athletes and a Russian national hero?

The young captain of the Russian national football team, who has been a "FIFA for SOS Children's Villages" ambassador since 2005, had organised the fundraising event at the Children's Village together with the agency "Health.Culture.Sport". Several representatives of St. Petersburg's most well-known companies, such as Rockland, Hors and BJ Design attended the event, forming the team "Friends of the Children's Villages", the captain of the team being - well, guess who?

The event raised plenty of money, and Andrey did not hesitate to add some of his own, on top of the mini-bus, TV-set and washing machines he had already donated to the Children's Village Pushkin that day.

Photo: SOS Archives
Kim greatly admired her godchild's piloting skills - Photo: SOS Archives

A mere five days later, on 27 September, SOS children halfway across the planet were also rejoicing, singing and dancing to welcome their famous guest: Kim Gevaert, two times European athletics champion and Olympic silver medalist, had decided to drop by to visit the Children's Village of Bukavu and get to know her godchild Pascal.

Pascal, age eight, has been Kim's godchild since 2007. He does well in school and dreams of becoming a pilot when he grows up, which is why he had asked his godmother to bring him an aeroplane. The SOS Children's Village of Bukavu, in which Pascal has lived since he was a baby, was opened in 1989. It is home to about 150 children, living in 15 family houses. After he and Kim had finished assembling the aeroplane she had dutifully brought him, he even showed off some of his - not yet quite airborne - piloting skills.

After that, Kim went to play and run with all the children of the village. Little did they know they were racing an Olympic silver medalist sprinter! Kim, quite slyly, only ever told them afterwards…

This was Kim's first visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Aside from mattresses, school stationary and toys, Kim also brought large amounts of food supplies, which were much appreciated, since SOS mothers are struggling with the prices for basic foods, which have risen sharply in recent months.

As a token of their appreciation, the villagers presented Kim with a traditional Congolese women's dress, made of a typical light blue fabric, handed to her by her own godchild Pascal.