Donations Help Link Children's Villages in Romania
The mission of SOS Children's Villages begins when a child has lost the love and security of his or her biological family. As an independent, nongovernmental international development organization, SOS Villages has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949.
In Romania, the organization began building houses for children in 1991; two years later, 24 family houses in Bucharest and Sibiu were ready to welcome children in need. In 20 years of activity, at least 15,000 children have interacted with one of SOS Villages' programs.
Currently, the organization provides more than 1,000 children and youth with family-based care. An SOS family provides individualized care to promote the development, education, and health of each child. In partnership with communities, SOS Children's Villages develops local infrastructure and runs kindergartens, day care centers, schools, vocational training centers, and medical facilities.
Children with no family arrive in an SOS family house when they are two years old. With the help of a "social mother" and five to six other kids, each child participates in a long-term education program until she or he is 26 years old and fully integrated into society. Kids live in the SOS Children's Villages until they are 14 or 15 years old and then join the SOS Youth Communities. After that, they learn how to live independently with the help of social workers. All expenses are covered until they are 18 years old, when they either go to study at a university or find a job. In both cases, they are helped and supported.
Currently, in every SOS Village, in each house, there is a computer with Internet access. Thanks to the Cisco hardware donations the organization acquired through TechSoup Romania, it was able to build an Intranet network to connect all of the villages. Each child can now play computer games, navigate on the Internet, and access personal documents from anywhere.
Moreover, because of the SMARTnet licenses included in the Cisco donations, the organization can rely on a virtual private network with gateway security.
"With SMARTnet licenses for Cisco routers, we are always guaranteed to have the latest software version for Cisco routers and also to replace them if needed," said Mihai Ion, national IT coordinator for SOS Villages in Romania. Moreover, he added, the budget the organization saved on licensing fees for Cisco upgrades will be used to buy new computers to replace the old ones.