Sofia makes difference in orphans’ lives [Archives:2005/813/Last Page]

February 3 2005
Sofia, initiator of the project
Sofia, initiator of the project
By Shaker Al-Molsi
Yemen Times Staff

In a world full of hardship, it is great to find people so concerned with other people, caring for them and identifying with them. It is heartening to hear then that a five-year old child, Sofia has initiated a campaign to help orphans.

“She kept complaining about the misery of orphans,” her father said. Being his only child, Mr. Claroni Mauro, an Italian who came to Yemen last month along with his friend Bernesi Luca, followed his daughter's demands.

“I started a campaign of fund-raising, I set up what I called the Sofia Project, rallying as many of my colleagues as I could. We went across local districts in Italy collecting donations in cash and in kind. We gathered all articles including pens, books, drawings, etc.” His visit to Yemen last January was part of his trip, which included also Mali, and Ethiopia.

“The Sofia Program focuses on poor countries and those suffering from civil wars. I know there are many other needy areas in the world, but there are limitations.”

Both visitors went to the Sana'a Orphanage House and another in Mukalla. “I wanted to see wide smiles on orphans' faces. This pleased me and I knew it would please my daughter seeing photos back at home. We distributed pens, books, and foodstuff. Mukalla Orphanage got $1200 and Somali refugee orphans got $1500.”

Asked why he did simply channel his efforts through existing orphan-sponsoring establishments, such as the Sana'a International Rahma Organization, Mr. Mauro answered that he did not have information about them. “Before we came here, we had tried to contact the Yemeni consulate in Italy. We got no response. People in Mali were very organized. They had sent me all information needed before I arrived. I knew while I was in Italy the locations of orphanages and their needs. I was amazed at the neatness of the rooms and the environment in there. The conditions resembled those in Europe and I am particularly satisfied with what I saw in Mukalla.”

The pair traveled across many Yemeni districts reaching as far northward as Sa'ada, where they saw children shouting for pens and books. They came back through Al-Mahweet, Wadi Thula, Amran, Marib, Tarim, Seyon, and Mukalla.

As a tourist, Mr. Mauro commented that Yemen has historic attractions but the highways are riddled with checkpoints. “There are 12 checkpoints between Sana'a and Marib.”

The future plans of Sofia Project intend to cover other countries such as Vietnam, and New Guinea. It has already donated 1500 euros for tsunami-hit countries through the UNICEF.

Though the gesture of Sofia Project is symbolic in nature because of its modest capacities, it is significant. It reminds people of their responsibility to reduce the suffering of the enormous number of orphans who live in inhumane conditions.