SOS Virtual Visits Forging Strong And Meaningful Connections Amidst The Pandemic

“All along, I thought the pandemic has completely stopped volunteer activities, outreaches, and other social welfare initiatives. But we were still able to bond with SOS children despite the pandemic. It only goes to show that sharing and kindness knows no limits and any hindrance can be conquered by the will to serve people in need,” says Roan Castillo of UPS Philippines, a corporate partner of SOS Children’s Villages Philippines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed our way of life. Since the beginning of 2020, the whole world was forced out of its comfort zones to battle the global pandemic. Communities had to impose lockdowns, families struggled to provide for their needs, and children had to cope with all the changes and uncertainties around them.

In the children’s villages, SOS children were out of school for months, and most projects for youth development and empowerment were postponed. Many donors have also withdrawn their support due to financial constraints, and SOS families have struggled to budget their funds. In spite of all the challenges, SOS Philippines and its partners pushed through to continuously provide its promised quality care to orphaned, abandoned, and neglected children.

Partner companies HSBC, Texas Instruments, Fujitsu, and HGS supported the E-learning Project to provide enough e-learning facilities such as computers and internet connection to SOS children. On the other hand, Pfizer, Herbalife Nutrition Foundation, Capital One, UPS Delbros International, Hoegh LNG Services ROHQ, On Semiconductor Foundation, Greenergy Fuels Limited, Johnson & Johnson, and RCBC Bankard Services Corporation helped ensure that SOS families will have enough food supply and other basic needs in this challenging year. Aside from their support, all these companies, including Radisson Hotels and Deloitte, initiated virtual visits to help fill in the social development needs of children in a time when face-to-face interactions are limited.

Sixteen companies and eight SOS children’s villages in the Philippines participated in a series of virtual visits.

With the theme #CaringCannotBeQuarantined, SOS Virtual Visits provide the platform for SOS children and employee-volunteers to meet and build meaningful connections despite the present restrictions brought by the spreading coronavirus. Marianne Mendoza from UPS Philippines agrees and shares, “being in quarantine for almost a year, we are all longing for human connection. Volunteering has now adjusted to the new ways and has migrated online, but the gift of time is something we can still freely share with the children.”

Arnold of SOS Children’s Village Manila felt inspired and appreciated through the virtual visit. “Even though there’s an ongoing pandemic, the uncles and aunties (employee-volunteers) found the time to see us and ask us how we are right now. I was inspired to hear their advice about achieving our dreams and staying driven in these uncertain times,” he says.

Knowing that there are people who care for them and support their needs gives children a sense of security and belongingness, which they need to become independent and contributing members of society as they grow.

During the virtual visit, Christine realized that she is blessed to have her SOS family thanks to the volunteers’ wise words. “Not everyone can experience this kind of life. My siblings and I are provided with our daily needs as well as education. I’m glad we were able to talk comfortably with the uncles and aunties and share this after the games and ice breakers,” she adds.

The children were all smiles as they played an online guessing game with the HGS employees.

Meaningful connections and strong bonds are proven to have a lasting impact on children and young people's lives. These activities help children meet new people, interact freely, and develop their own world views. Most importantly, this bonding helps create a happy childhood for these children to look back to and use as a foundation to grow and lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Like all the children, SOS Philippines is looking forward to more visits in the coming year as we forge new connections and build stronger partnerships. We encourage everyone to invest in our children of today so that they may build a better future for us all.