Sponsor spotlight: Melissa
Kenya – March 29 2024

Interview with Mildred: A caregiver at SOS Children’s Villages in Kenya 

Mildred Khamadi, now 52, has been a caregiver at SOS Children’s Villages Kisumu in Kenya since 2009. 

Why did you choose to become a caregiver? 

“I was a nun for 10 years before I joined SOS Children’s Villages. While still a nun, I lost my sisters at different times, and one left a seven-month-old baby. I could not bring the child along to the convent, even after seeking permission. My larger family expected me to become the breadwinner after losing my sisters. So, I decided to leave the convent and look for work. I applied for two positions in SOS Children’s Villages Buru Buru, as a mother and as a teacher. I was called to be a mother. I first worked as an aunt rotating in all the family houses. When the SOS Children’s Village opened in Kisumu, I applied and got the position of SOS mother.” 

How do you look back as a caregiver? 

“Having been in a closed environment during my time as a nun, being an SOS mother has opened my view of the world. I have learnt how to socialize and manage life through the many trainings I have had. Working with children has given me new hope. I worked with older people at a home in Brazil, but children are different; they exude positive energy and have hope all around them, even on their faces. The generation I am raising is doing well; they are healthy, happy children.” 

Is being a caregiver what you expected of it? Do you have examples? 

“As an SOS mother, I have the freedom to run my family without interference. I am a trained teacher, and I am so passionate about teaching, that I had hoped that I could change from being an SOS mother to a teacher, or better still, alternate between the two. But I found out that I could not. The SOS mothers’ contract stipulates that one is a mother for life.” 

What do you love most about your life as a caregiver? 

“I love interacting with the children and with the other SOS mothers. The SOS mothers here have a close network. When one encounters a problem, the mothers unite and find a solution. I was the SOS mother representative when this SOS Children’s Village begun.” 

How are your children? How many children are in your family now? 

“I started with six children, but they have increased to 10 (four girls and six boys). The eldest is 16 years old, while the youngest is six. I get to spend more time with the children these days since the education ministry reduced school hours. The children also find time to play. Before, they could go to school even during the weekends.”  

How is the growth process of your children since coming to the village (health, education, personal and mental)? Can you give an example about a child? Are there challenges? 

“Each of my children has a sad story. But I am happy to say they have all improved and are now leading happy, better, all rounded lives. Crispin and Stacey are siblings; they are very close and always defend each other. They lived with their grandmother before they came to me. Crispin was malnourished, and he had a protruding tummy, which the other children from the village made fun. They called him “katumbo,” a Swahili word meaning “big stomach.” He was very thin and small. I did not think he would make it. After numerous hospital visits, medication and proper nutrition, Crispin improved greatly and he is now healthy.”  

Can you describe how it is when a new child is welcomed to your family? Do you have special rituals? How do the other children react to a new brother/sister? 

“When we are expecting a new child, I prepare the children and make sure they understand that another child is coming to join us. When the last child joined us, the children were overjoyed. They still carry him around like a baby.”  

What makes you proud? 

“I don’t have a biological child of my own, so when the children call me “mum,” I feel honored. I tell everyone that I have 10 children.” 

What do you find important to teach your children? 

“I teach them discipline, hard work, being responsible and to respect other people and themselves. These are very important attributes. The children know that is important to say hello to people and visitors.” 

Can you describe what the children mean to you? 

“Like in any family, the children are not perfect, but they are very respectful. They will apologize fast as soon as they have wronged me. They mean a lot to me.” 

How do you like your house? Do you have everything you and the children need in there? Do you have enough (private) space? 

“The house is very good and spacious. The children have their own personal space and so do I. I have taught them to have a sense of belonging. However, the children do not have everything they need, like school bags and uniforms. Some of the children have outgrown their uniforms. The process of meeting these needs is taking too long.”  

Do the kids know they have a sponsor, and do they communicate with them? How do they feel about the sponsor? 

“The children are aware of the sponsors and read letters from them every month. I provide the sponsors with photographs and any detail they want to know about the children. I help the children who can’t write yet respond to the letters they receive. The children feel appreciated by the sponsors. However, I have two children who don’t have sponsors yet. They get affected when the rest receive communication while they don’t.”  

What do you want to tell the sponsors? What did their support do? 

“I would like the sponsors to know that I appreciate their effort, each and every one of them. Without them, there would be no breakfast on the table for the children. Through their support, there is consistency in the children’s care.” 



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