A Tribute to the Women in SOS Children’s Villages

A Tribute to the Women in SOS Children’s Villages
A Tribute to the Women in SOS Children’s Villages

For more than 35 years, SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa 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 107 mothers who take care of over 700 children in 11 programmes 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.

And yet despite these challenges, these women devote their time, energy and love to help heal broken hearts. 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 pivotal 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.

“Our vision is to see that every child belongs to a family and grows with love, respect and security. This cannot be done without the women at SOS Children’s Villages. The Mothers, Aunts, Social Workers, Programme Directors all contribute to raising the children and youth in our villages, so that one day they may become contributing members of society. We celebrate all these SOS women, and South African women who are building a society that loves, develops, advocates for and protects children”, says Lebo Phaweni, Head of Communications 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 programme director, social workers, and the other mothers in the village, aunts and the retired mothers. It’s a role that comes with enormous responsibilities, but it’s never short of its rewards.

Thanks to the devotion and love of the mothers – SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa

About SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa

SOS Children’s Villages is an independent, non-governmental organisation that advocates for the rights of South Africa’s most marginalised children. We offer loving, family-like care for children and young people who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care. Established in 1984, SOS has eight Children’s Villages and three Social Centres across eight provinces.

Each year our Alternative Care, Family Strengthening and Youth Employability programmes provide life-changing support to more than 5 000 children across the country.

The Alternative Care model comprises of four principles that include a mother (each child has a caring parent), brothers and sisters (the family ties grow naturally), a house (a secure place to grow up in) and a village (the SOS family is part of the community).

Our Family Strengthening Programme aims to enable children who are at risk of losing the care of their families to grow within a safe family environment, by building the family’s resilience. We work in co-operation with local authorities and other service providers to empower families and communities to effectively protect and care for their children.