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Annual Review 2005

A future through family strengthening
SOS Children is best known for its villages, which provide orphaned and abandoned children with a new family and home and the love and security that come with them. However, in order to support thousands more children and their families, we also work with communities and vulnerable families to provide them with the skills and support they need to continue caring for their children and prevent family break-up. These community support programmes take many different guises, from vocational training programmes and counselling for addiction, to support for single-parent families.


The SOS Family Strengthining Programme in Kiev has been preventing child abandonment since 2004

Independence from the USSR has been a mixed bag for Ukraine. Although economic growth has slowly improved in recent years, the social situation during this transition period remains far from ideal. Furthermore, the country still suffers from the tragic nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in April 1986. More than 3.5 million people became ill due to contamination, and new cases of cancer are continually being reported.

This difficult social and economic situation has resulted in a negative outlook among much of the Ukrainian population. Alcoholism and drug abuse have become widespread, with as many as 123,000 drug-dependent people currently living in Ukraine. Related to drug abuse is the equally high prevalence of HIV/AIDS within the country. An estimated 1.4% of the population is HIV positive, ranking as the highest within both Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Forty percent of those infected with HIV/AIDS are women, and as many as 97% of HIV-positive children were infected through their mothers. People living with the disease in Ukraine continue to suffer from stigmatisation and discrimination because of a lack of information regarding transmission, prevention and treatment.

As a result, many parents find themselves unable to care for their children, and according to government statistics the number of abandoned children has reached 50,000. Many children therefore end up living on the streets and often become victims of drug and solvent abuse. Some turn to prostitution, putting them at a greater risk of contracting HIV.

SOS Children’s work in Ukraine began in the capital Kiev in 2003, targeting poorer households to support families through difficult times and prevent the abandonment of children. In Kiev, many families receive food and household packages.

The SOS Playbus scheme, which is very popular all over Eastern Europe, provides educational activities to over 3,000 children.
In response to the large numbers of children experimenting with drugs and the severe lack of facilities at their disposal, SOS Children also opened an HIV/AIDS counselling centre for this at-risk group and their parents. The main target groups are single parent, particularly female-headed, families; families living below the poverty line; and families where one or both parents suffer from a terminal disease. Almost 2,000 people have benefited from the centre’s support through training sessions on child rights, hygiene, sexual education and prevention of substance, drug and alcohol misuse as well as through personal development support to overcome crisis situations and control emotions.

Through partnerships with other local NGOs, SOS Children is helping around 400 children in the prevention of abandonment project and an additional 60 children through the HIV/AIDS consultation centre. Four schools are also directly involved in the prevention of HIV/AIDS work. The first SOS Children’s Village in Ukraine is under construction on the outskirts of Kiev.

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