By Andy Soloman, Yomdel Founder & CEO
Last year, rather than send out Christmas cards to our many wonderful clients and super friends we decided we would instead like to support a worthy cause in the Philippines where we have our state-of-the-art delivery centres for Yomdel services. This year we will be doing the same.
Yomdel takes its corporate & social responsibility seriously. In the UK, We have chosen to support Chestnut Tree House, a children's hospice in West Sussex that cares for 300 children and young adults from 0-19 years of age with progressive life-shortening conditions.
In the Philippines, we decided that we wanted to support an organisation in Davao, the area where our delivery centres are located. We chose SOS Children's Village in Davao, a place that is home to 143 children. SOS Children's Villages International is active in 135 countries or territories around the world and works to protect and care for children who have lost parental care, or who are at risk of losing it.
It is a sad fact that one in every 20 Filipino children is abandoned, neglected or orphaned, and these children are also more likely to be subjected to abuse. Support from Yomdel has allowed us to sponsor the education for one child in the Davao village for a year, something we are very proud of.
It's a beautiful place
When on a trip to visit the Yomdel teams in the Philippines in September I also made sure that I took time to visit the village in Davao. It was an amazing and moving experience. The SOS Children's Village in Davao occupies a beautiful compound with delightful houses, mango tress, a massive banyan tree and even a football pitch.
You can see more of my visit in this video.
I also took time to chat with Roxie Paguyan, the brilliant and charming head of fundraising in Davao. Apologies for the sound quality in this video, but from watching this you will get a real sense of the gentle and caring determination found at this wonderful place.
Why did we choose SOS Children's Village Davao?
I used to be a foreign correspondent and through much of the 1990s was based in Hanoi, Vietnam. At that time the ruling communist party in Vietnam was just beginning to experiment with free market reforms, but the country was desperately poor as it grappled with the twin disasters of years of terrible war and utterly foolish communist command economics.
Everyone was poor, but the changes were coming thick and fast as private enterprise took root, and the naturally entrepreneurial population seized the opportunity to make money. But within this rampant nascent capitalism there were huge segments of society where people lived desperate lives. The maimed and disabled war veterans recently demobbed after fighting in Cambodia were a visual sign on the streets, as were the street kids.
These children, often from the countryside, would come to the cities to eke out livings selling newspapers, offering shoe shines, and sometimes stealing or begging.
On the outskirts of Hanoi was a wonderful oasis of peace, the SOS Children's Village Mai Dich (pronounced "my zic"). In this place I found children who otherwise would have been on the streets being given the amazing opportunity of secure family life, education and all the support they needed to set themselves up for their futures. Years later, it felt natural that I would turn again to SOS when looking to support a cause in the Philippines.
The first SOS Children’s Village was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in Tyrol, Austria, in 1949. As a child welfare worker, Gmeiner saw how children orphaned as a result of World War II suffered. He was committed to helping them by building loving families and supportive communities.
To quote the SOS Children's Village motto: No Child Should Grow Up Alone.
How right that is. And how right Hermann Gmeiner was.