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In Malawi, Adoption is Not Enough
Date:4/1/2009

WASHINGTON, April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When Madonna sets out to adopt a child, the world pays attention.

Thanks to Madonna, millions of people are being introduced to Malawi -- a small impoverished African nation.

In a country where reports of orphaned children range from 500,000 to over a million, help is needed in many forms. Villages where orphaned children are raised in nurturing homes, with a mother and siblings, and the essentials of childhood are ideal. SOS Children's Villages operates three villages in Malawi that provide these loving, permanent homes to hundreds of children.

Malawi, known as the Warm Heart of Africa, is a land of stunning beauty. With hundreds of miles of tropical golden sand beaches lining Africa's third largest lake, genuinely friendly people, and nine wildlife reserves, it might seem like an idyllic setting. It is not.

According to the United Nations, over half the population of Malawi lives below the poverty line of $1 per day. Of these, 22% are considered "ultra-poor" living on less than $0.20 per day. 44% of all children under five are chronically malnourished, and almost every family is affected by malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

After eight years of persistence, SOS Children's Villages established its first facility for orphaned children in Malawi in 1994. The SOS Children's Villages alternative to adoption and crowded orphanages is a model that has been refined over 60 years in 132 countries. Family is central to the SOS model. Children grow up in a "family home" with an SOS mother and with their biological siblings whenever possible. They receive a quality education, meals, clothing, medical care, and are prepared to live life as independent adults.

SOS currently has Children's Villages in three Malawian locations: Mzuzu, in the north; Lilongwe, in the central capital area; and Blantyre in the south. Over 400 children are being raised in 42 family homes within the SOS Malawi Villages. Community members also greatly benefit from SOS programs that include kindergartens, primary schools, vocational training centers, and medical facilities.

The United Nations cites a 26% completion rate for primary school for all children in Malawi, while the completion rate for girls is just 16%. At the Blantyre Village, the SOS kindergarten is providing the building blocks of education for 90 children, while 320 children are benefiting from the primary school. The SOS schools help to alleviate the over-crowding of local Malawian schools and make it possible for children who reside in the SOS Village and those who live close-by to receive a quality education. This same story is played out at each SOS Village in Malawi and at SOS Children's Villages around the world.

About SOS Children's Villages

In existence since 1949, SOS Children's Villages is dedicated to the long-term care of orphaned and abandoned children. SOS offers a family-based model of care essential for the successful transition from childhood into adulthood. SOS operates almost 500 Children's Villages around the world as well as schools, medical facilities, family strengthening, and emergency relief programs. SOS Children's Villages has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 14 times and has received the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. For more information please visit the SOS Children's Villages web site at http://www.sos-usa.org.

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Heather Paul

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SOURCE SOS Children's Villages - USA
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