On 4 March 2007, SOS Children's Village Freetown and all the affiliated projects received a special delegation lead by Mr Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth Secretary-General. Visiting the country to support peace-building activities, the special guest took some of his precious time to learn more about the work of SOS Children's Villages in Sierra Leone.
Arriving in SOS Children's Village Freetown, Mr Don McKinnon and his delegation were welcomed by Mr Olatungie Woode, director for SOS Children's Villages Sierra Leone, together with other senior members of the national office. Soon after, they were taken on a tour of the village where they visited two family houses and chatted with the children in a family atmosphere. "I am amazed to find such homes in Sierra Leone after ten years of brutal civil conflict", remarked Mr Don McKinnon. "I am also delighted to be at SOS Children's Village Freetown to see what is being done for needy children in Sierra Leone," he added.
Continuing their tour, the delegation went to the "SOS Home for the Physically Challenged", a project adjacent to the village, and briefly chatted with some of the children preparing dinner. The next stop was SOS Hermann Gmeiner School Freetown, where the Commonwealth Secretary-General explained to the students what his organisation does to help young people to positively contribute to the future of their country.
In his speech, Mr Don McKinnon advised the pupils to seize the opportunity to get as much education as they could. "No one can take education away from you once you have got it. You [the students] will face many unforeseen challenges. Therefore, take advantage of education being provided by SOS Hermann Gmeiner School Freetown", he emphasized.
The opportunity given to the students to ask questions to Mr McKinnon was another important highlight of the visit. As one of the student enquired on what the Commonwealth was doing to make it possible for orphan and abandon children to have access to education, the Secretary-General gave the following answer: "The Commonwealth is determined to make education a right for all children in Sierra Leone. We will help orphan children so that in the future they will help themselves." He maintained that he visited Africa for the positive changes and challenges taking place in the continent. "We also help young people to live better lives and Sierra Leone is no exception", reaffirmed Mr Don McKinnon.
The school premises also hosted a press conference attended by international and local journalists, where Mr Don McKinnon addressed issues such as developmental assistance given to the government of Sierra Leone in the areas of building trade capacity amongst Commonwealth countries, small-scale agricultural activities, and vocational skills for young people.
The delegation's last stop was the SOS Vocational Training Centre in Freetown offering quality training to youths in printing technology. To conclude his visit, the Secretary-General noted that he was very impressed by the work done by SOS Children's Villages in Sierra Leone to support vulnerable and needy children. He finally added that his visit of SOS Children's Villages' projects in Freetown would be his living example of good work; an example he would take along when visiting other countries.