SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa celebrates its 40th birthday this year, 2022. In 1982, the first South African Programme was opened in Ennerdale.
SOS Children’s Villages has been caring for children who have lost or are at the risk of losing parental care. And at the centre of this family-based care organisation, are the SOS Children’s Villages mothers – women who devote their lives to caring for and raising children whose own biological mothers are unable to– either as a result of extreme poverty, terminal illness, death, abuse or neglect.
At SOS Children’s Villages, there are 110 mothers who take care of over 700 children in 11 programme locations across South Africa. The mother could have up to eight children of different ages under her care in a family home. These children sometimes come with behavioural and emotional issues. For the mother, the physical care and attention is sometimes a smaller task than the challenge of rebuilding the child’s trust and establishing a loving relationship with a child who, has lived through trauma.
Together with the support of SOS Children’s Villages, the mothers are responsible for raising well-rounded children, in a loving home environment, providing for their emotional and physical needs, so that one day they may become self-reliant.
As we celebrate women’s month in South Africa, we pay tribute to mothers of a different kind, whose role is so critical in rebuilding broken lives and raising children without parental care, in loving homes and environments. The mothers form the backbone of what SOS Children’s Villages does. They have the enormous task of motivating, encouraging, loving and supporting children that come from diverse backgrounds to believe that anything is possible.
“From its founding, women have been the bedrock of SOS Children’s Villages. In their various jobs, women continue to carry this organisation, propelling it forward with power only they have. For this, I honour every single woman within our ranks. You matter and you have value. Happy Women’s Day,” says Patrick Kulati: National Director at SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa.
Sarah has been a mother at SOS Children’s Village Ennerdale for more than 10 years. “It’s not a job to me. I love being a mother to my SOS children and love them as my own. This is a calling for me and the best decision I could have made. Today I can say that the children I have raised may not be mine in a biological sense, but they are mine in every other respect.” explains Sarah.
The mothers have great support system from the Village programme directors, social workers, the other mothers in the village and retired mothers. It’s a role that comes with enormous responsibilities, but it’s never short of its rewards.
This Women’s Day 2022, SOS Children’s Villages celebrates these mothers, and all the women in South Africa.