20 May 2014

Looking back: A mother’s influence

(5/20/2014): Ten years have gone by, but I still remember that morning when my uncle told me that someone from SOS Children's Village Hai Phong would come to take me away. I was an orphan and was living with a sick uncle who had financial problems.

The local authorities had requested that I be admitted to the SOS Children's Village. Although my uncle was unable to take care of me, I couldn't imagine leaving him.

Some days later my uncle and people from the local authorities took me to SOS Children's Village Hai Phong. My first impression was of a wonderful palace - it seemed to be much more than just ten houses with red tiles that were clustered together. The SOS Children's Village looked so beautiful and cozy.

The house where I was to live was situated at the far end of the SOS Village. It was spacious, well ventilated and all the furniture was in good condition. I was received at the door by a middle-aged woman with an honest, kind face. She wore a smile as she welcomed me into the house. All of my SOS brothers and sisters followed us.

I had a wonderful childhood from that moment onward. For the first time, I experienced the joy of going to school without worrying about not having textbooks or exercise books. I was able to go to drawing classes and had plenty of drawing books and pencils.

At that time, the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School did not exist [the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary and Secondary School opened in Hai Phong in September 2000]; my SOS siblings had to attend a primary school quite far from the SOS Children's Village [Do Khac Hieu was in secondary school at that time]. His winning painting.

My SOS mother took them to school every day. She actually had to take each of the children there by bicycle, but she never made it seem as though it were anything but an adventure. Her caring, selfless act had a deep impact on me and inspired me to paint her portrait. I gave that picture the title "Mother fetching children from school in the rain."

The painting was sent to SOS-Kinderdorf International as an entry in the art competition held to mark the 50th anniversary of SOS Children's Villages. My picture won first prize. This very much encouraged me and I painted many more pictures. I received awards for some of them in national and municipal competitions.

At present, I am in my third year as an art student. Even though I now live far away from the SOS Children's Village, I feel indebted to my SOS Mother's love and care.

Ten years have passed, but I still remember that first day when my mother took my hand and went into the house with me. Even now, I can feel the warmth of her hands. I will always cherish the memories and feelings my SOS Mother has for me, as they are an important part of my life.

This story is part of a month-long series telling the stories of women and mothers around the world. The series is part of the SOS Children’s Villages – USA ‘Celebrate Mothers. Empower Women’ campaign. You can find more stories, free eGifts and more at CelebrateMoms.org