Planning a party in Sri Lanka from London couldn’t have been easy. But that’s what Malani did for her SOS Mother, who recently celebrated her 70th birthday.
“When we were children our mother never cared about her birthday. Everything was always about us,” said Malani, who was raised by her SOS Mother at an SOS Village in Sri Lanka. “So for her this was a very special event…probably the first time that a party was given just for her.”
Malani managed to gather all the children from her SOS Family to celebrate with their SOS Mother, whose name is Iranganie Ranawake. Since she became an SOS Mother in 1981, Ms. Ranawake has raised 25 children including Malani.
Ms. Ranawake enjoys her first-ever birthday party—at age 70.
In addition to the birthday party, Malani also arranged for her SOS Mother to visit Europe for the first time and to see the first-ever SOS Village, which was opened in Austria in 1950 for orphans of World War II.
While in Austria and Germany, Ms. Ranawake met other SOS Mothers and the children growing up under their care. She was treated to dinner by the former president of SOS Children’s Villages International.
“This was a unique chance and will probably not happen again. It made me feel sentimental,” Ms. Ranawake said.
Back at home, Ms. Ranawake is retired and living in a special house for retired SOS Mothers. However, she is still very involved in the lives of the children she raised, in addition to their grandchildren.
“There is always something going on,” said Malani, of her SOS Mother. “Either a birthday party of one of her children or of one of her 12 grandchildren or she has to pick up one of the grandchildren from school.”
Ms. Ranawake was the first SOS Mother in Sri Lanka, which today is home to six SOS Villages and about 700 children who were orphaned, abandoned, or otherwise in need of a new family.
Asked to look back on her experience as an SOS Mother, Ms. Ranawake said:
“You have to think that this is your home and these are your children. You have to do it from the heart and not only for the sake of the money. Try your best from your inside.”