Yesterday was my first meeting with the Sos children’ s villages people.
The Children Village is about an hour drive from Cochin, I took a driver who drove me there and waited until I finished with the meeting and took me back home.
The village is very beautifully built, with lots of flowers and trees.
I met ms Suzie, who has been working as a consultant at the village for 17 years and mr. Anthony who has been there for a year now. The head of the Village, mr. Vipin Das had a urgent meeting and didn’t have the time to join us.
Suzie and Anthony told me about the process how they find and take children which is in general probably very different to the European system. Basically they get requests to take children from other organization, then they try to find out in collaboration with the local social worker if the child/children really are in need of fostering. In the case when parents are still alive they have to find out whether the parents really are not capable of taking care of the child or if they just try to get out of the resbonsiblity, especially if the child is a girl. Very often they foster sibling groups, that mainly are girls.
The children stay at the village in so called family homes. In reality they are mainly women who could not find a husband and therefore became Sos childrens village mothers. In one family there can be over 10 children. The whole village has 15 homes, and 115 Kids.
The boys stay at the village until they are 14, then they move to a boys only home. The girls stay with their village mother until they get married, but if they are not married in age of 24 they have to move out of the village on their own.
All the children go to school and many of them continue in universities. The homes are simple, but clean. The village is not wealthy in our standards, but considering from the circumstances the kids are coming from it’s a heaven for them.
We agreed on doing two workshops a week, 2-3hours a day. I will work with children age 14 and above. I did not yet meet the children as they haven’t yet chosen the ones. I will work with 8 kids, as that is the amount of cameras I got and I also think that is the best size for a group so that I can still focus on all of them.
As the children have school during the week we agreed that I will do the workshops on the weekend. So every Saturday and Sunday afternoon for the next 3 weeks I will go there and run the project.
Im very exited about this.
I asked if they have had similar projects before and Suzie told me that never anything in art or photography field. They had a Russian hair artist there last year who thaught the kids to do fancy hairstyles etc. Sounded very random to me but apparently it was a big success.
Suzie also told me about the workers at the village,.All of them have at least an master degree in social work. As a general rule they have that you must love, but not too much.
I was shown around the village and all the young kids got very exited especially at the moment I took my camera out of the bag. So I had to take a hundred images with different poses.
I will post some images here later on,I have to get an approval from mr. Vipin Das to use the images as they are taken of minors. Don’t think that is going to be any problem but I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.
So tomorrow we will have our first session. Im very much looking forward to it and I hope all will go well.