First kids came to Keila SOS Children’s Village already at the end of 1994, right before Christmas. The formal opening ceremony of the Children’s Village took place on June 16,1995.
The Children’s village includes 12 family houses that are circling the playground right in the middle of the village. Each house is a home for up to six kids and their SOS mother who lives with them 24-7. During the mother’s holiday days there is one certain SOS employee filling in for her.
SOS follows one strong principle that children are raised by the same person who knows them from the time they first came to the children`s village. SOS mother takes part in all housework together with the family, helps kids with their homework, cares for them when they are ill, supports and helps them with their worries, and is happy for the children when they succeed. All this enables children to feel safe and gives them an opportunity to develop in a safe environment. At the moment there are 52 kids between the ages of 2 to 17 living in Keila Children’s Village. The average age is 11 years.
There are several other support employees at the Keila SOS Children’s Village – kindergarden teachers, psychologist, village director, social worker and the village manager who all are supporting kids in their development. In addition, kids can get advice and help from assistant teacher and speech therapist who regularly visit the village. During past years SOS mothers have enjoyed the help of volunteers who assist kids with their studies as well as with planning their recreational activities.
About life at the SOS Children’s Village
Hobbies and extracurricular activities are very important for us. The strengths and interests of a child will be discovered together with the mother, teacher and psychologist, and the child will be referred then to a suitable extracurricular activity course. Most of the children are involved in sports. Boys prefer soccer, basketball, swimming and dancing is most popular among girls. At site, kids have the opportunity to participate in table tennis training, enjoy art courses and take a music lesson to study a musical instrument.
We also find that it is equally important to develop work related behaviour through appropriate training. In addition to the work done at the family house and in its surrounding areas, the village manager offers the most enthusiastic and hard working children an opportunity to do other important tasks as well. For instance, these activites can include furbishing, varnishing or painting a writing table, repairing a chair, shoveling snow or mowing the lawn at the children’s village territory.
Children are happy to participate in spring and autumn cleaning activities together with the employees of the children`s village. They already know that after a day of hard work there will be a joint event – making a fire, enjoying food and games together. Each child is assigned a specific „profession“ for the period of summer break from school – watering flowers, picking up branches and trash, sweeping the roads, mowing the lawn or some other outdoor job. In addition, we try to find work in vicinity for the older kids – either in Keila city youth camp or at companies located in the surrounding areas. There are several hard working kids who have been able to work at the same company for several summers in a row, and later on they have found a permanent employment at the same company.