10 March 2014 Gabriel’s Small Steps 3/10/2014: A small boy stood in the doorway. He was, as five-year-olds tend to be, rather dirty. But the dirt that coated his body was not a testament to a happy day spent romping in the grass. Gabriel’s thin, malnourished frame and ragged clothes showed a past of neglect, hunger, and need. He walked through the door into his new home at SOS Children’s Village Jos in Nigeria. The transition would prove to be a challenge for Gabriel. Apprehensive and unsure, Gabriel initially refused to bathe, and sometimes didn’t even want to eat. Gabriel began to adjust to his new home and become more open with the help of his SOS Mother. Two years later, another challenge began for Gabriel: kindergarten. The new environment proved to be a struggle. Fluent only in his mother tongue, he was frustrated by the classes taught in English. He was disruptive and aggressive and his academic progress was slow. With a classroom full of children who all needed her attention, Gabriel’s teacher needed assistance with Gabriel. Other teachers in the school who had experience in counselling and special education began working with him. Those around Gabriel quickly noticed his progress. He sat quietly in class and followed the teacher’s instructions. Today, Gabriel is in the second grade. His SOS Mother said she is proud of her son’s accomplishments and personality. Gabriel has greatly improved his academic performance. He now uses simple English, reads, and counts with confidence. He’s an eager student and has developed friendships in the classroom. Thanks to his own hard work and support from his SOS Mother, teachers, and specialists, Gabriel is well on his way to catching up with his age group. His path leads to a bright future, one much brighter than he had ahead of him on the day he stepped through the Village door in Jos. Gabriel will continue to receive support and will join in the ranks of successful SOS Alumni who have built happy and healthy lives.