But orphanages can only care for a fraction of the needy children in Malawi. Most of Malawi's 4 million children living in poverty are raised by surviving parents or relatives who barely have enough money to feed themselves let alone their children or charges.
These children end up on the streets and become vulnerable to kidnapping or worse.
SOS Children's Villages, a charity serving children in 132 countries, has worked for years in Malawi and elsewhere to strengthen fragile households to enable them to continue caring for their children.
Study Confirms What SOS Has Seen for Years
A recent study bears out what SOS has learned from experience: that offering modest support to poor families reaps disproportionately large benefits for children. The study, conducted by a team led by Boston University researcher Candace Miller, evaluated a Malawi government pilot program, begun in 2006, that paid the poorest households in several districts an average of $13 a month.
Study results show that the aid is proving effective in helping children stay with their families or relatives. Using the money to buy food, medicine, livestock; to send their children to school; and to travel to hospitals for HIV drug treatment, families have been able to attain a basic level of food security. The cash also has had a positive effect on overall family health.
Experts agree that children should be raised by their own families or relatives whenever possible. SOS Children's Villages, a charity that provides loving homes to orphaned and abandoned children, concurs.
SOS Children's Villages for many years has been running family strengthening programs that aim to keep families intact. For poor families living in the areas surrounding SOS Villages, SOS staff offer counseling on parenting skills, AIDS prevention, maternal and child health, and advice on how to start a small business. SOS also provides monthly food packages to the poorest families.
As the Malawi cash program has shown, a little bit of help for destitute households can make or break a mother's, father's, or grandparent's ability to care for their own children or a relative's child. SOS has witnessed the benefits of the moderate family assistance it offers households from Latin America to Asia to Africa.
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For 60 years, SOS Children's Villages has been dedicated to the long-term care of orphaned and abandoned children. With 500 villages in 132 countries, SOS offers a family-based village model that provides for the holistic needs of a child - family, community, education and support - essential for the successful transition from childhood into adulthood. Through Villages, schools, medical facilities, micro-lending, and family strengthening programs, SOS Children's Villages impacts the lives of over 1 million people each year. In 2009, SOS Children's Villages was honored with the Save the World Award. SOS has also been awarded the Mother Teresa Gold Medal, the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize and the Vietnam Friendship Medal. For more information, visit http://www.sos-