SOS Launched – Prevention of Child
Abandonment and Family
Strengthening Project (FSP)
SOS Children’s Village officially launched its EU funded “Prevention of Child Abandonment and Family Strengthening Project (FSP)” with a reception, on Friday, 30 January 2015.
About 50 guests attended the event at SOS Children’s Village in Nicosia, including Ms Alessandra Viezzer, European Commission, Mr Aziz Gürpınar, and Mr Mehmet Harmancıas as well as representatives from the German and U.S. Embassies and the British High Commission.
FSP, which is funded by the European Union under the Cypriot Civil Society in Action programme and implemented by SOS Children’s Village, aims to enable 80 per cent of children in the northern part of Cyprus who are under the risk of losing their biological family to live in a caring family environment, as well as strengthening the capacity of parents.
Officials from the project stakeholders – the Social Welfare Department, the Folk Arts Foundation (HAS-DER), the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Artisans and Shopkeepers (KTEZO) and AML High School (Atatürk MeslekLisesi) – also attended.
The event started with the screening of a short film about FSP, followed by speeches by Ms Viezzer, SOS Children’s Village National Director Ms Pelin Maneoğlu and Mr Aziz Gürpınar. Young performers from the LTB Choir, which features children under the care of SOS Children’s Village, then entertained the audience with a cheerful performance of various numbers, including the Turkish rendition of “Do Re Mi Fa”, from the musical, The Sound of Music.
In her speech, Ms Viezzer congratulated SOS Children’s Village for carrying out a “crucial project”, which “aims to contribute to decreasing the rates of child abuse and neglect in the northern part of Cyprus”.
Ms Viezzer continued:
“Despite European, national and international efforts to protect and promote the rights of the child, the situation of children in Europe and around the world is worrying.
Although the EU region is one of the most affluent and developed in the world, according to Eurostat 19 per cent of its children aged 0-16 are at risk of poverty. Children often suffer violence within the family, community, residential care and other settings. Many children belonging to migrant and minority groups, such as Roma, continue to face, directly or indirectly, discrimination in education. Children continue to be trafficked and smuggled into and across EU Member States and too many continue to be placed in institutions.
“Children’s rights form part of the human rights that the EU and EU countries must respect,” Ms Viezzer said, adding nearly EUR 8 million have been provided to projects that encourage active citizenship or peace and reconciliation.
Ms Maneoğlu then thanked guests for showing their support. She explained that since its establishment in 1993, SOS Children’s Village has provided a loving home for 245 children, who have lost parental care.
“Since 2005, FSP has supported 454 children at risk of losing their biological families and has strengthened 180 families,” continued Ms Maneoğlu.
“Currently, FSP is supporting 74 children and 28 families. From February 2015, under the 3-year project funded by the European Union, FSP will increase its capacity to 60 families and 150 children.
The family is the most important unit of the community; it is the most powerful shaper of a child’s outlook, hopes, and values. Strong families mean strong children and adults.
“…I hope that all our efforts contribute to building the foundation of a sustainable family support mechanism for the country,” she added.
Mr Gürpınar said:
“These children are our children and the whole community’s children; they are all of our responsibility.”
He added that the Turkish Cypriot administration boosted its support to children under SOS Children’s Village’s care, from 50 per cent to 60 per cent in 2014, and to a further 70 per cent in 2015.