Zehra can talk about her children for hours. She talks of the funny moments when one tried to use the remote to shut down the volume of another or the sad moments when a child would come home crying after falling of a bike. She has loads of stories which make her proud, too. This is one of them.
Boys' evening out
'When Zoran was turning 13, we decided he was too old to have a birthday party at home,' begins Zehra. 'So, I gave him some money to go out, have a pizza and cakes. He went with his SOS brother Dragan, a year older than him. In town they were supposed to meet Nenad, three years their senior who was at the time living at the SOS Youth Facility.
Flowers are the most common present for mom's birthday
We agreed that Zoran and Dragan would be home by nine in the evening. I never had a problem with any of my children breaking curfews, so I relaxed in front of the TV with my younger ones, my [SOS] daughter Dragana and [SOS] sons Mladen and Nikola.
Around 08.30pm the doorbell rang and I could hear my three eldest talking in front of the door. It was strange that they rang the doorbell as they all have keys of the front door. I hollered at them to come in, but instead they rang again.'
'A bit annoyed I got up and went to open the door. I could see they were hiding something. Zoran told me to go to my bedroom and come out in ten minutes. 'What are you boys up to?' I asked strictly, but they just giggled and told me to go to my bedroom again.
So I did and ten minutes later came to the living room. There was something covered on the coffee table, stack of money and bills. The first thing I noticed was that the bills were in order, but the change was not. There was more. I thought of the worst: 'Where did you get the money?' I yelled.
Automatically, I uncovered the pile revealing a cake and a business card. 'Please call this number, mom. You should hear what this lady had to say,' Zoran said mysteriously. I dialled a number of a pastry shop. A lady answered. She was expecting my call.'
Honesty and politeness opens hearts
'What happened was that Zoran, Dragan and Nenad went out for a pizza and decided against having cake on their own. They wanted to bring one home so that we could all enjoy a treat for Zoran's birthday. They went to a pastry shop where Zoran noticed a 20 pfennigs coin on the floor, an equivalent to 10 Eurocents. He picked it up and gave it to a lady working there who hadn't even noticed she dropped it.
That lady happened to be the owner. She noticed they began to quietly argue about the cakes. They wanted to get one which I'd like, but couldn't decide whether I'd prefer fruit or chocolate cake. 'I noticed that they're close by age and don't look alike, so I asked them if they weren't from the SOS Children's Village by any chance,' the lady told me on the phone.
Sometimes children need no special occasions to give flowers to their SOS moms
They nodded and explained that they wanted to buy a cake for me on the occasion of Zoran's birthday. The lady asked them if she could cover the cost of Zoran's birthday, which they absolutely refused. Then she said that she would be honoured if she could treat our family with a cake. They only said yes if she'd give them the phone number so I could call and verify the story.'
'My dear Zehra, you raised wonderful children,' she said to me. 'I didn't give them the cake because they are orphaned. I gave them the cake because they are the most honest, sincere, polite and well-behaved teenagers I have met. That is so rare these days. You did a wonderful job raising them and I wish your family all the best,' I was crying like a river by the time I hung up the phone. I am so proud of my children.
My three cake-boys are in their early twenties now. They often come to visit and call every day. As they were growing up and as the six little ones I have now are growing up, we tend to focus on the daily problems and forget the little gestures that make us happy and proud. Luckily, events like this one are here to remind us to stop and enjoy in sharing the beauty that is innocent childhood.'