DAVAO CITY, Philippines
—Teresa Tuble was one of the first SOS Mothers hired to care for children at SOS Children’s Village Davao when it opened in 1981. She’s retiring at the village this year after having raised 35 orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children during the past 34 years.
We asked our colleagues at the SOS Village, which is one of eight in the Philippines, to ask Teresa to reflect on her experience as an SOS Mother.
Why did you decide to work for SOS Children’s Villages?
As a social work major in college, I had experience working with children at kindergartens, orphanages and children with special needs. One day, I came to the SOS Children’s Village in Davao City and applied for a job. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be ready for such a challenging job, but eventually I saw how I can help the children who lost their family. I saw myself becoming a family for them. It was a challenging job to get used to, but my ties with the children convinced me to stay and continue.
What has been the most challenging part of the work that you do?
Just like every mother, the most challenging part of my job is when our children are slowly becoming adolescents. They face lots of issues within themselves such as rebelliousness, aggression, becoming independent, and many more.
What has been the biggest impact you have had on the lives of the children under your care?
The biggest impact I have on them is the love we share. When they start revealing their life stories with other people, it makes me proud to know that I am a part of their stories. I want my children to know that they should never hesitate to come visit me. So as long as I am living, I am their SOS Mother. They can come here and visit their home anytime they want. I am their home.
What makes you most proud about being the first SOS Mother at SOS Davao?
My children. Who and what they have become have always made me proud. Whether they are financially successful or not, I am happy they are my children. Being a pioneering SOS Mother in Davao is a privilege but a big responsibility. I always tell myself to serve as a good example to the younger and newer mothers.
What is the biggest difference between SOS Davao in 1981 when you first joined SOS and SOS Davao now?
There are so many differences. Children before exerted more effort since there is not a lot of resources such as technology, while children now find things so convenient because of technology.
How has SOS Davao remained the same over the past 34 years?
The purpose of taking good care of the children is the same. It has never changed throughout the years. Our aim is to be a family to them remains the same.
What will you miss the most about being an SOS Mother?
Definitely, my children. And our home.
In what ways will you still maintain a connection with SOS Davao?
I will always maintain my connection to the children. My children can always visit me in my retirement home at the SOS Village. And I can have the children help me stay connected with technology.
What are your plans for retirement?
Nothing in particular. Perhaps I will just stay in the SOS Village or sometimes go out on vacation.
There are currently about 750 orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children growing up among the eight SOS Villages in the Philippines. The first SOS Village in the Philippines was opened in 1967 and is the 36th SOS Village to be built in the world. There are now 560 SOS Villages.
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