With the posting of today's article by AlertNet about SOS Kinderdorf's programs to help disadvantaged families in Kosovo I realized that I never updated you on the toy drive that I held before going home for the holidays in December!
The toy drive went great. Most of my colleagues and friends donated to the cause and we were able to fill a huge box (1.7m X 2m X 3m) with toys and clothing for children. Due to an outbreak of meningitis in Magure, I was not able to make the donation to the social center in person but my friends in the DCA took the toys after I departed. I am supposed to receive some pictures of the donation and I can't wait to see the smiles. There is nothing quite like making a child smile :)
Before I left, I met with Fahrush Neziri, the director of the Pristina office of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. Since there is only one orphanage in Kosovo (run by SOS Kinderdorf) according to the Ministry most of the orphaned children go to live with relatives or foster families. The list of children that I received from the Pristina office had 56 children from the ages of 2-18 years of age that could use a bit of holiday cheer. The morning before I left, I sent a large donation to the office to distribute to the children. In addition to overseeing the placement of children with relatives or foster families, the Pristina office also operates a sort of meeting center where estranged parents can meet with their children in a neutral setting. Outfitting the meeting center with toys for the children is my next goal in addition to continuing to help disadvantaged families with clothing and toys.
Back to SOS Kinderdorf! This is one of my favorite charity organizations because I truly believe that they are the future and the key to ending conflicts around the world. One thing that is sure to incite rage in MTCowgirl is the use of child soldiers, a personal cause of mine. SOS Kinderdorf goes to many of the troubled places in the world and sets up shelters for abused or disadvantaged children. In Kosovo, the organization runs a small orphanage (approximately 10-20 children) and now has opened two centers for disadvantaged families who are struggling to keep their families together after the end of the conflict. The new program is designed to help families regardless of ethnicity and aimed at promoting awareness for creating a safe environment for orphaned, abandoned, or destitute children in Kosovo.