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SOS Social Centres in Belarus

In Belarus there are currently seven Social Centres for children and the local community, those in Borovljany, Minsk and Mogilev. Most of the projects operate in Borovljany, and help to look after children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Many SOS Social Centres operate via Family Strengthening Programmes, which aim to support the wider community.  Below is some information about the Social Centres that SOS Children runs in Belarus:

SOS Social Centres around Belarus: In-Depth

Child attending SOS Social Centre Minsk Belarus Mogilev

Description of SOS Social Centre/ FSP:

The SOS Social Centre operates a family strengthening programme for up to 700 beneficiaries; it provides access to essential services for children’s development (eg. educational, nutritional and health support, social skills) and support for families to protect and care for their children. The programme also aims at linking families with income generating activities and offers help to improve the parents’ parenting skills.

Work and achievements:

By the end of December 2009, 136 children have received SOS-support in the Social centre for women. During 2009 the project offered long-term support to 157 families with 263 children: there were families with 1-6 children and 2 underage pregnant women. 258 women and 530 children received one-off support. The difference between intensive long term and short term support is that with the first group a case management approach is applied that includes an in-depth assessment of all family members, to identify needs as well as strengths, followed by a family development planning process that should lead towards self-reliance. This implies usually more intensive work with a family for a longer period of time to achieve a stable situation in the family and empower women to care for their children. Short-term support on the other hand means that women and children receive only a few interventions without a case management approach in cases when women don’t want to commit to a longer involvement in the project.

Mother and children using the SOS Social Centre Borovljany BelarusBorovljany

Description of SOS Social Centre/FSP:

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 continues to affect many children and families in Belarus.  For more than 15 years, SOS Children has been supporting affected children and families from the most contaminated areas of the country by providing them with different forms of aid to recover from the effects of the disaster.  SOS Social Centre Borovljany is at the centre of our work for families affected by radiation from the disaster.

Children have the opportunity to spend their time (during their cancer treatments) in a homelike atmosphere in one of four houses at the SOS Social Centre in Borovljany- together with their mothers - instead of staying permanently in the hospital. The SOS Social Centre offers families different kinds of help: financial support for buying healthy food during their stay; social, psychological and health related aid as well as juridical advice with filling in documents to gain support. In addition the SOS Social Centre sends children who are in a "transition period" (from being sick with cancer to leading a healthy life again) either to the SOS summer camp in Caldonazzo, Italy or to a summer camp in Belarus for recovery each year.

The SOS Social Centre operates five different branches: health centre, information technology, family strengthening, Playbus and community support.

At the health centre, up to 360 persons can be accommodated per year; children and their mothers are given the possibility to stay together throughout the duration of the therapy. The children receive treatment at the neighbouring oncological hospital for the long-term effects of their exposure to radiation.

The health centre offers professional care, medical supervision and psychotherapeutic support in a pleasant and welcoming environment, as well as providing supplementary remedial education and a range of leisure activities. About 370 children benefit from the different courses in the field of information technology.

The Family Strengthening Programme offers access to essential services for children’s development (eg. educational, nutritional and health support, social skills) and supports families to protect and care for their children. The programme also aims at linking families with income generating activities and offers help to improve the parents’ parenting skills.

The Playbus is a mobile centre for children stopping off at public parks, hospitals and orphanages. Activities such as playing theatre, dancing, various craft activities and educational games are on offer.

The community support programme aims at supporting the individual development of children and more child-oriented teaching by enhancing skills of teachers and educators.

Marina Gorka

Description of SOS Social Centre/FSP:

The family strengthening programme offers access to essential services for children’s development (eg. educational, nutritional and health support, social skills) and supports families to protect and care for their children. The programme also aims at linking families with income generating activities and offers help to improve the parents’ parenting skills. The community support programme aims at supporting the individual development of children and more child-oriented teaching by enhancing skills of teachers and educators.

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Did you know? In Chipata, Zambia, SOS Children runs a mobile medical centre, which is able to move between communities and offer vital medical care.