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Children Remember the Joy of Christmas

Holiday celebrations are a joyous time of year. Spending time with loved ones at home is a big part of what makes the holidays special. But vulnerable children who have lost their families don’t have the luxury of holidays at home. Children come to SOS Children’s Villages for many reasons. Some are orphaned, others abandoned. Still more have had their lives destroyed by natural disaster or war. That’s why we make sure the holidays at our villages are an extra special occasion to look forward to, filled with songs, gifts, special food and joy.

These happy celebrations don’t just last the day; they create memories that last a lifetime.

Why do children come to live at SOS villages?

Messiah grew up in Liberia amid a cruel, decades-long civil war. Messiah’s father fled the country, leaving his mother to care for him. To protect Messiah from violence, his mother sent him to live with his uncle at the age of 10—and his uncle eventually brought Messiah to SOS for the chance at a better life.

Carline came to the village in Port-au-Prince, Haiti at the age of seven. Her family couldn’t afford to provide for herself and her four siblings; they often ate only one meal per day, or even every few days. Thankfully, Carline’s younger siblings were able to join her at the village.

Enetty was only three years old when her mother died after giving birth to her brother. Her father was unable to care for two young children, so Enetty’s uncle brought the siblings to the village in Bindura, Zimbabwe. When Enetty visited her hometown years later, she learned that if she had stayed there, she would have been married by the age of 15. Rather than pursuing an education, her days could have been spent farming a small plot of land to feed her many children.

A lifetime of appreciation

Now as adults, Carline, Messiah and Enetty look back on their childhoods in SOS Children’s Villages with gratitude.

“I finally felt safe,” Messiah remembers. “It felt like heaven.”

Carline’s SOS mom made her believe that she could achieve anything. “She didn’t give up on me,” Carline recalls. “She was my mentor. She was my mom. She was everything.”

“I loved SOS,” Enetty says. “My brother and I had a beautiful new home and loving family with a caring SOS mother, and 10 SOS brothers and sisters.”

The warmth and love of holidays with family              

Some of their fondest memories are of their SOS holiday traditions.

Carline vividly remembers Christmas in her village. The children watched a television show featuring Christmas songs and learned all of the beautiful, catchy tunes to sing at their village gathering. Carline was deeply touched by “Nwel Tristes,” a song about someone who asks if Christmas really exists because Santa is supposed to bring him gifts and hope, yet he doesn’t even have basic necessities. She believes this fate could have befallen any one of the children in her village, had SOS not helped them. Instead, Carline’s childhood Christmases overflowed with joy. She and her SOS siblings enjoyed visits from Santa, a village-wide concert and decorations that her SOS mom put up early and took down late to extend the festivities.

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I had never been so happy… I was truly blessed.

Messiah’s first Christmas at the village especially stands out. During this time of year, SOS mothers shopped for their children, and Messiah was thrilled to receive clothes, shoes, socks, a watch and much more, including a “spectacular” Christmas outfit. Gifts, Christmas carols, generous meals and a loving family to share it all with: “I had never been so happy, and ever since that day, Christmas has never been the same,” Messiah says. “I had never seen anything like this, except on TV. I couldn’t believe I was part of it. This little boy from the slums now sits at a table with all these delicious meals and these wonderful people. I was truly blessed.”

Give children the love they deserve this holiday season

The children at SOS villages are the lucky ones. Every child deserves love and care—but too many are hungry, cold and alone. Millions of children around the world don’t have the heartwarming memories of family and holiday cheer that come from a place to call home.

Having a home means growing up feeling safe to be yourself and having the support to chase your dreams. At SOS Children’s Villages, we nurture that essential feeling of belonging while looking after each child’s needs and aspirations. We believe strong families are the bedrock of a thriving community. With our deep-rooted ties to local people and cultures, we welcome, build and celebrate our bonds to each other.

This holiday season, you can give love and joy to a vulnerable child by supporting SOS Children’s Villages.