SOS Children's Village Bulawayo

Bulawayo, the second largest city of Zimbabwe, is located on the banks of the river Matsheumhlope in the Matabeleland Province in the southwest of the country near the border with Botswana.

Wide, tree-lined streets and Victorian houses are characteristic for the townscape of Bulawayo.

The SOS Children's Village in Bulawayo enjoys the advantages of the infrastructure of the city: local secondary schools and markets are within easy reach and the children can receive medical assistance at the two large local hospitals, should the need arise.

The official opening ceremony of SOS Children's Village Bulawayo took place on 10 September 1996 in the presence of representatives of the Zimbabwean government and numerous other guests of honour.

SOS Children's Village Bulawayo comprises fifteen family houses, an administration and service area, staff accommodation, and a house for the village director. It also includes large vegetable gardens, where each SOS family can grow their own fruit and vegetables.

A maximum number of 180 children can find a new home in the fifteen family houses, where they are lovingly cared for by their SOS mothers.

Up to 150 children can be admitted to the adjoining SOS Kindergarten, which consists of five group rooms and a playground. Children from both the SOS Children's Village and the local community attend the SOS Kindergarten together, which greatly supports their integration and mutual understanding.

Since 1995, an SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary School has also been operational. The primary school has a capacity to take in up to 760 pupils and comprises 23 classrooms, computer labs, a multi-purpose hall, a library, an administration building, a sports field and other sports facilities.

In order to meet the needs of the growing number of youths who had outgrown the SOS Children's Village, an SOS Youth Facility was established in 2000, where up to 80 youths can stay during higher education or vocational training and prepare themselves for an independent life.

Since 2003, family strengthening programmes have been co-ordinated, offering access to essential services for children’s development (eg. educational, nutritional and health support, social skills) and supporting families to protect and care for their children.

The programmes also aim at linking families with income generating activities and offers help to improve the parents’ parenting skills. The programmes reach out to up to 2,500 children a year and provide them und their families with food, school fees, basic medical treatment, counselling and psychosocial support.

Moreover, HIV/AIDS affected families are offered support to improve their housing and their living conditions. Those accepted onto the family strengthening programmes are mainly children who have lost both parents and now live with grandparents, older siblings or other relatives, as well as those whose parents are seriously ill.