January 1 2003 SOS Children's Village in South Sudan officially opened 02/01/2003 - On the first day of the new year, SOS Children's Village Malakal was officially opened by Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir in the presence of thousands of people including numerous high profile politicians. The SOS Children's Villages in Malakal, the capital of the Upper Nile province, which had already been in operation since the beginning of 2002 was positively overrun with thousands of visitors on the first day of the year. The dedication ceremony took place on national Independence Day and was attended, in addition to President Omar al-Bashir, by numerous local and regional ministers and thousands of others representing all the Sudanese tribes. Lots of people had already assembled by the morning and their presence symbolised the special status of SOS Children's Villages. The village's houses are the only buildings far and wide that are made out of concrete and the SOS Children's Village is the only aid project that was built in Malakal during the time of civil war. The building process was made difficult by to the critical situation in the southern part of Sudan and the bad road links and as Ali Mahdi, director of SOS Children's Villages Sudan, described it at the opening ceremony: "We had to transport all the building material from the North to Malakal along the Nile. In this way, every shipment took about a week." The living conditions for other parts of the population in Southern Sudan are catastrophic thanks to the decades long civil war, above all it is the children who suffer from deprivation, being orphaned and the trauma of war. On the whole it is the children in the big cities have to live under the most unbearable conditions. "We implemented an SOS Emergency Relief Programme in Wau during the war, and after seeing the devastating plight of the children, we decided to build an SOS Children's Village," says Ali Mahdi. In 1998, SOS Children's Villages set up six food distribution centres at which people can get not only food but also medicine and clothing. Alongside this, a camp was established with 41 tents. The families living there have been comprehensively supported and in collaboration with other aid organisations we have successfully trained people as carpenters, midwifes and nurses as well placing a peace of land at the disposal of each family, so that they can be self sufficient in running their households in the future. The SOS Children's Village in Malakal is the second one in the Sudan, where SOS Children's Villages has been active since 1975. There has been an SOS Children's Village on the outskirts of the capital, Khartoum, since 1978 which, in addition to 14 family houses, is made up of a kindergarten, an school, a youth facility and a farm. A few kilometres south of these facilities is a well, constructed by SOS Children's Villages in 1995 and which ensures a water supply for around 25,000 people.