13 June 2014

SOS Children’s Villages Aids Single Father of Two When He Needed It Most

Willian (far right), his mother, and his two sons. (SOS archives)

(6/13/2014): Being a single father isn’t always easy. The life story of William, who is from Bolivia, proves that.

Fourteen years ago, William and his family were living in La Paz, Bolivia.

He and his wife separated and she took their young children for a year without telling William where they had gone.

Eventually, he tracked down his wife and negotiated to spend Sundays with his two sons. When William suggested that the boys should live with him permanently, his wife accepted. The dad and two sons moved to Potosí to start a new life, but William ran into problems.

“I was asking around about renting a room but no one wanted to give me one,” he said.

“As a single man with two young children, there was a lot of mistrust. They said I had to rent with a wife. I lied and said that she’d be arriving in a couple of months.”

But it wasn’t just a conservative society he had to battle when looking for a place to live. He also knew no one and had no money.

“I only had a bag of clothes and a couple of blankets,” he said.

William found work in construction, but he had no idea what to do with the children. At first, he had to leave the two boys in an adjoining room while he worked construction jobs.

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Even when a woman finally rented William a room, he had to leave his children alone during the day, running home at lunch to care for and feed them.

“My sons didn’t have plates or cutlery back then,” William said.

“So what did I do? I gave my kids their food served in plastic drinks bottles cut in half and they’d sit there eating it on the floor.”

William heard about SOS Children’s Villages and was originally resistant and determined to keep his family together at all costs. Then his neighbor told him about the SOS Social Center where he could leave the two boys in a kindergarten during the day.

“I didn’t have to worry about breakfast or lunch anymore,” the 54-year-old said with a sigh. “And my kids were in contact with others of the same age.”

Fast-forward to present day, life is much more stable for everyone.

SOS training courses taught the family about everything from spotting cancer to cooking better food.

William’s mother, Dora, has moved to Potosí and lives with the family. The two sons Raúl, 17, and Christian, 15, are studying hard and have a year left at college.

“I get by with enough money to survive,” William said. “But I feel like a millionaire just having my sons and my mother by my side.”

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