An SOS mother an an SOS child embrace at the SOS Children's Village Ben Tre in Vietnam
05/06/09 - Mother's Day 2009, celebrated in the United States and many other countries on May 10, is a very special holiday for SOS Children's Villages around the world. SOS mothers are the centerpiece of SOS Children's Villages' philosophy of caring for orphaned and abandoned children.
The SOS model is based on the belief that in order to thrive, every child needs a loving mother, a safe home, supportive siblings, and a stable community. SOS mothers are professionally trained local women who devote their lives to creating warm homes for children whose prospects would otherwise be very grim.
What drives women in 132 countries to become SOS mothers? SOS is a haven for women who love children and are seeking more meaning in their lives. At SOS Children's Villages, women make lifetime bonds with children and find a nurturing community.
Holiday Ceremonies in Rwanda
Marie Théogène Témoignage Umuteteli (second from right) and her SOS family at the Kigali Village in Rwanda
Whatever brings them into the SOS family, SOS mothers pour their hearts into raising needy children. Take Marie Théogène Témoignage Umuteteli, a longtime SOS mother at SOS Children's Village Kigali in Rwanda. Marie raises nine children—five boys and four girls. Her village celebrates Mother's Day by holding a ceremony where the children express their love by singing, dancing, and presenting poems, flowers, and handmade cards to their SOS mothers. The whole village then gathers for refreshments.
Marie says she also prepares "a substantial meal for my children and some friends at the family house. Mother's Day is an important day when all the women in the world can really feel what it's like to be a mother."
Forming Mother-Child Bonds
One of Marie's happiest memories is the first day that Willy arrived at the SOS Children's Village in 1994. Willy was an orphan who was picked up near a hospital in Kigali after his parents' death during the horrorific genocide.
Willy was not yet two weeks old, and he was so ill and weak that Marie wondered if SOS could save his life.
"I put in all my motherly energy and a lot of effort. Willy always had my attention," said Marie. Today, Willy is a healthy teenager. "It makes me so happy watching him go to school every day," says Marie.
For SOS mothers like Marie and those across the globe from Guatemala to Germany to India, the best Mother's Day gift of all is to see their children grow into educated, emotionally secure adults who contribute productively to society and maintain life-long ties to their SOS moms.
This Mother's Day, if you would like to help an orphaned or abandoned child secure a home, a full stomach, and a warm, loving SOS mother, consider sponsoring an SOS child.