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Member Profile May-June 2015

Amnesty International Canada



A mother from the rural community of Kouloun, Mali attends literacy classes with her young daughter as part of the SOS Family Strengthening Program Kouloun. With the help of this program 146 parents have received basic literacy classes for the first time.

This month CCIC met with Boyd McBride, President and CEO at SOS Children’s Villages –and one of CCIC new member organizations!-to discuss the organization’s focus and the recent response to the earthquake in Nepal….among other things!


CCIC - What would you say distinguishes SOS Children’s Villages Canada from other Canadian organizations working in international development?

Boyd McBride - What distinguishes us is our focus. SOS Children’s Villages exists for a simple reason: to see that no child is ever alone.

This informs all of our work, from our family based care model, where we provide loving homes for children who have been abandoned or orphaned, to our family strengthening programs, which empower families at risk to prevent the crises that lead to child abandonment.


CCIC - For those who are unfamiliar with the Children's Villages model, can you please introduce us to its structure and function?

Boyd McBride - SOS Children’s Villages believes that every child needs a loving family. Our first priority is to support families at risk to prevent family breakdown, so that children do not need alternative care.

In cases where a child cannot be cared for by their family of origin, we provide quality alternative family based care in the form of Children’s Villages where children grow-up as part of an SOS family. Each child is cared for as an individual until adulthood; children are cared for by an SOS mother in a family home with their biological brothers and sisters. SOS mothers are at the heart of the Children’s Village model. They are local women extensively trained in child care and protection, who are committed to creating a nurturing family home for children in their care.

In co-operation with local governments, SOS Children’s Villages also works to improve the quality of all forms of alternative care to ensure a range of options for children in need.


CCIC - SOS Children's Villages was one of the many organizations who responded to the Nepal Earthquake. Can you please briefly describe your emergency response as well as your overall work in Nepal?

Boyd McBride - Prior to the earthquake on April 25th, SOS Children’s Villages had been on the ground in Nepal for over 40 years and was operating thirty-seven programs. In the aftermath of the earthquake, our emergency response has focused on the well-being of unaccompanied and separated children, as well as children at risk of losing parental care.

As a participant in the Global Protection Cluster, SOS Children’s Villages is:

  • assisting with family reunification by providing temporary family based care for unaccompanied children, while working in partnership with state authorities to identify and locate biological family members;
  • offering 21 child-friendly spaces that provide therapeutic and informal class activities, medical treatment, meals and refreshments for children; and
  •  providing humanitarian aid by working in close collaboration with the Red Cross, UNICEF and the Nepalese government.

Four of the SOS Children’s Villages in Nepal have converted their grounds into emergency relief camps, supplying first aid, food, water and tents for children and families. A total of 14 essential services points have been created.


CCIC - 'Family Strengthening' appears to be core to your vision and programming. What is this approach and what makes it so unique?

Boyd McBride - Children have the right to grow-up with their biological family. By working with families at risk of breaking down, we can help prevent the crises that lead to child abandonment and ensure that children’s rights are realized and protected.

SOS Family Strengthening Programs are developed through wide-spread community consultation and are tailored to the needs of the local community and participating families. The overall objective of these programs is to ensure the wellbeing of children by improving the capacity of families and local communities.
First the Programs provide immediate assistance to families in crisis. The Programs then work with parents and caregivers over the long term to develop their income generating and financial capacity, as well as a range of essential parenting skills. At the same time the Programs work with community based organizations and local partners to develop the local communities’ ability to support vulnerable families and protect children.


CCIC - SOS Children's Villages Canada recently rejoined CCIC. Why was it important for you to become a member again?

Boyd McBride - For a long time we’ve recognized the value of CCIC as a voice for the development sector in Canada and have valued the support it offers to non-governmental organizations. All our work is to the same end: to make the world a better place for those who need it most, and CCIC helps us do that.

For more information about SOS Children’s Villages:



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