04/11/2003 - Helmut Kutin, SOS Children's Village President, officially opened Guatemala's fifth SOS Children's Village on 27 October. The village, located in the town of San Jerónimo, Baja Verapaz, some 142 kilometers from Guatemala City in direction to the Atlantic, is at the moment giving a home to 83 boys and girls in nine of its ten family houses.
During his 3-day visit to Guatemala, Mr. Kutin officially inaugurated the SOS Children's Village amid songs, cheers, hugs and greetings from SOS children, mothers and co-workers alike. Although the village has been in operation since October 2001, the visit of Mr. Kutin and representatives of SOS Children's Villages Switzerland, which financially supported the construction of the facilities, was strongly desired for the official opening.
The official opening ceremony took place also in the presence of the Ambassador of Austria, delegates from the important Swiss donor company "SIG Combibloc International AG", a journalist of the Swiss newspaper "Basler Zeitung", local guests, visitors from other SOS projects, municipal authorities, and last but not least, the cheerful boys and girls who live at the village.
The ceremony started with a welcome and greetings in the Mayan languages Achí and Quiché, spoken in this zone. Afterwards, Ben Hamer, representative of Combibloc, gave a speech that highlighted the importance of the SOS staff members' commitment to the development of the village.
Mr. Kutin's final words invited to consider the fact that SOS Children's Villages' heart is its boys and girls, that the commitment is to each and every one of them. Immediately after Mr Kutin's speech, a group of children sang the SOS song, after which Mrs Charlotte Häfeli, president of the Swiss SOS Children's Village association, cut the ribbon at the main entrance.
Firecrackers, applauses, laughter and a tour around the village to unveil the plaques dedicated to the different donors were the framework that concluded the official activities.
The informal program started with lunch served for everyone at the village's main square, and that same night, an outdoors theater activity related to Guatemalan history and tradition was performed.