This week’s speaker is Debbie Vance an eRotarian and an active member of Click4Action living in Canada. Debbie’s passion is helping the SOS Children’s Villages and she shares her thoughts in conversation with John Isles.
John: Debbie welcome to our Speakers slot and can I start by asking you tell us about S.O.S.
Debbie: Around the world, SOS Children’s Villages provides loving homes for children who have been abandoned and orphaned where their basic needs for food, health, shelter and education are met. Since 1949, SOS Children’s Villages has been guided by a basic principle: a loving home for every child. They are the world’s largest charity working with orphaned and abandoned children. Currently there are 2,000 SOS Children’s Village facilities worldwide providing homes to over 70,000 children through its villages. SOS also supports an additional 1,000,000 children in need around the world through its Family Strengthening Programs, kindergartens, vocational training centres, schools and hospitals, all of which provide children and families in need with vital access to education and health care.
SOS Children’s Villages was founded in 1949 by a young Austrian medical student, Hermann Gmeiner, who witnessed the suffering of so many orphaned and abandoned children after World War II and felt that something had to be done to help them. Out of his unswerving conviction the SOS Children’s Village idea was born. Gmeiner noted SOS’s unique approach: “What orphaned and abandoned children need first and foremost is a family – a family in which they can develop normally.”
SOS Children’s Villages began to grow: first Children’s Villages and youth facilities were established throughout Europe. In the early 1960s moved to Latin America (beginning in Uruguay) and Asia (beginning in South Korea and India). In the early 1970s, SOS Children’s Villages began to establish programming in Africa. SOS Children’s Villages has since grown to become an organization whose childcare concepts and educational principles are recognized throughout the world. Currently there are 2,000 SOS Children’s Village facilities worldwide.
John: That’s great but how did you become involved and why?
Debbie: I was introduced to SOS through my friend and ,at the time, President of my previous Rotary Club Ken Dennis. He introduced me to Lois and Gilles Bouchard who founded SOS Children’s Village locally and we hit it off right away. After a wonderful conversation while enjoying a cup of tea at their home in Richmond, I knew I had just met some very special people.
For the past 5 years SOS Children’s Village BC had been putting on a fantastic fundraising event called the SOS Children’s Village BC Run/Walk which happened to be in the same City as my then Rotary Club. In 2014 The SOS Children’s Village BC Run/Walk was about to be cancelled due to some unfortunate circumstances. President Ken Dennis motioned for his Rotary Club to step up and handle the management of the event instead of seeing it cancelled. Between the SOS Volunteers and The Rotary Club of Richmond the 2014 SOS Children’s Village Run/Walk was a huge success. During my many hours of volunteering for this event I learned all about SOS and the great work they did for youth and the fact it was an International Organization. I was very impressed and wanted to become more involved with SOS as a whole as well as each years Run/Walk event.
John: This is a great project but how can our E.Rotary support this?
Debbie: SOS Children’s Village is International. There are Villages all over the world. I am very lucky to be a member of an eClub which has members from all over the world contributing to International projects. As an ongoing supporter of SOS our eClub members can become involved in SOS Villages near to them or in a preferred location or where our assistance is needed most.
This year funds raised by our eClub could support youth local to where I reside. Next year our eClub could support youth in a Village in the UK close to other members and the year after our eClub could support another Village in a location close to another member and so on and so on and so on…..
Youth are our future and what better way to help build a successful future than to help the youth of today. What a great way for youth in need to know that Rotary cares and that Rotary is International as well and that eClubs are the future just like they are!
John: Thank you Debbie for sharing this with us and I am sure all Members will want to support this through our Monthly Draw
More information about SOS Children’s Villages can be found here on their main website