Longtime Supporter Back in Haiti to Assess Progress Since Earthquake
WASHINGTON, June 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- SOS Children's Villages, a global organization that focuses on family-based, long-term care of children, this weekend welcomed UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie to its Village in Santo, Haiti outside of Port-au-Prince. Ms. Jolie spent the night at an SOS house in the Santo Village. She visited with and brought toys for the children. On her trip she met with President Preval, current and former Government of Haiti Ministers, Haitian Judges and lawyers, U.S. State Department officials, and other NGOs regarding child protection in Haiti.
Preceding the overnight stay, Ms. Jolie held a dinner and round-table discussion that included UNHCR, SOS Children's Villages, UNICEF, Partners in Health and PRODEV. The purpose of these meetings was to study the Haitian legal system surrounding child protection issues and explore mechanisms for strengthening the Government's capacity to address these needs.
This is Ms. Jolie's second visit to the SOS Haiti Village. When last there in February she met with the 33 children who were brought to the village after the Haitian government intervened to prevent their removal from Haiti. This weekend, Ms. Jolie learned that all of the children have been reunited with their families and continue to receive assistance from SOS.
During her stay Jolie commented, "That is why I like to visit and support the SOS Children's Villages in the world because I have seen that the children are growing up in a safe and loving environment."
In contrast to an orphanage, SOS is a family-based model of care that makes a commitment to provide each child with a loving mother, home and a future. SOS places a priority on keeping biological brothers and sisters together and raising them in their own culture. SOS has 500 villages worldwide as well as thousands of schools, vocational training centers and medical clinics.
Ms. Jolie enjoyed breakfast in the village. SOS children welcomed her with a song in Creole as she distributed toys she had brought for them. One of the children spoke on behalf of the group and told Ms. Jolie how happy they were that she had visited the village again.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been long-time supporters of SOS. In the past, Ms. Jolie personally visited an SOS Emergency Relief Program in Chad, an SOS Children's Village in Ethiopia and the couple also visited the SOS Village in Amman, Jordan.
"Ms. Jolie's involvement helps to raise spirits when life has become so hard for children who have lost everything. Her continued support sheds an important light on the progress and challenges all of us face in Haiti." said SOS Children's Villages – USA CEO, Heather Paul. "With the six month anniversary of the earthquake approaching, Jolie helps the world remember that the struggle for survival continues on the ground every day. International partners working hand-in-hand with Haitians will be there for many years to come, long after the cameras have gone away."
SOS - Santo is currently housing nearly 500 children without biological families to care for them. Over the past few months, 160 children who were temporarily in SOS care have been reunited with their families. They are beneficiaries of the SOS Family Strengthening Program that provides food and counseling assistance to 10,000 people daily.
Ms. Jolie also toured the SOS "Global Village Shelters" at the SOS-Santo site. Made of polypropylene materials, these shelters are quickly installed. They each provide 8 children and an SOS Mother with dry, safe housing as the rainy season approaches. About 300 SOS children will be moved into the shelters as added protection against the rainy season. "Global Village Shelters" promise to set a high standard for mid-term housing in Haiti.
For more information on SOS Children's Villages and its Haitian relief efforts, please go to www.sos-usa.org.
About SOS Children's Villages
For 60 years, SOS Children's Villages has been dedicated to providing family-based, long-term care to children who can no longer grow up with their biological families. They also focus on preventing the conditions that cause children to be orphaned and abandoned. Through their Children's Villages, Family Strengthening Programs, and other initiatives, SOS impacts the lives of over 1 million people each year. In 2009, SOS Children's Villages received the Save the World Award. SOS has also received numerous honors including the Mother Teresa Gold Medal, the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, and the Vietnam Friendship Medal. For more information about SOS Children's Villages, visit www.sos-usa.org.
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SOURCE SOS Children's Villages - USA