Local SOS Villages face uncertain future as int’l support dries up
The 162 orphans being housed at the SOS Children’s Village in Barrett Town, St James, and Stony Hill, St Andrew, could find themselves homeless within two years unless approximately $266 million can be found to keep the two facilities open.
Ray Gregory, interim national director of the SOS Children’s Villages, says that while the ultimate aim is to make both facilities self-sufficient, he is hoping that kind-hearted Jamaicans will rally to their assistance in the short term.
“We are approaching a point where our major donor, SOS Kinderdorf International, has slated us pretty much for self-sufficiency. We went on the self-sufficient cluster in 2015 and it means that yearly, we would have been losing subsidy at a rate of five per cent,” said Gregory, who was speaking yesterday at the organisation’s corporate fundraising breakfast in Montego Bay.
He said that the organisation’s 2020 budget is geared towards giving at least 170 children a home away from home in a loving, caring environment. He said the ultimate aim is to ensure that no child will be left to grow up on their own.
“Currently, the family care structure that we provide is $266 million for 2020. Ten per cent, or $25,416,582, of that amount comes from local fundraising; 22 per cent, or $59,070,513, comes from government subsidy provided by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency,” said Gregory, who also revealed that plans are afoot to offload unused assets to cover another seven per cent of the budget.
“All of that is at risk because we are going back on the self-sufficient cluster by 2022, meaning we are in Jamaica, we are in the Americas,” said Gregory, intimating that based on the region Jamaica is in, there is enough wealth for the facilities to function on their own.
“Some countries are self-sufficient already. They raised their own funds or they have government support 100 per cent,” he added.
But even as the local organisation is seeking to generate funding, Gregory is worried that they could lose some of the overseas funding on which they have been banking.
According to him, the organisation’s fundraising arm in Europe – Promoting Supporting Association, from which the bulk of its international funding comes – has turned its attention to Africa and Asia, which are in greater need.
“The donor stock is falling in Europe. People are not giving as they used to before. People are growing older, dying, and the younger ones aren’t even giving, so our reserves internationally have gone down to pretty much a non-existent stage,” noted Gregory.
“Jamaica [has been] ... doing better economically over the past few years, but we are not necessarily a giving country, and that’s the dire concern we have why we want to be out there now because we are going to have to raise 66 per cent, or $164 million, for 2020 locally if we were fully self-sufficient by 2022,” said Gregory.
“We are going to have to start raising money locally because between 2022 and 2030, we will have to be raising our entire budget on our own.”
SOS Children’s Village is a private, non-profit, non political and non-denominational welfare organisation. Its goal is to offer orphaned and abandoned children, regardless of race, nationality or creed, a permanent home and to prepare them for an independent life. The Jamaican chapter was founded in 1970 with the initiative of Dr Harland Hastings, John Rollins and Professor Heinz Simonitsch.