It was not by accident I found myself on the premises of SOS Addis Ababa Village. I was assigned to report Village's employees recognition day. Almost all the workers had gathered at the compound with their children. I felt I found myself in a family get together where mothers and their children spend a wonderful time.
At SOS children villages there is no blood bondage among children but all are siblings. Ten of them live under a single roof with their loving and caring mother. One may not see resemblance of facial colour or other biological factors between mother and children but they are affectionate family members under a single roof.
The roofs form several dots of separated houses at the children village located around Lafto mall. Each house has sheltered about ten children with a respective mother-head. They are houses for young children and infants who lost their biological parents for various reasons.
At the SOS Children villages, a mother is the central figure. And this center figure is not expected to be a biological mother. She only needs to have a warm-hearted personality for children. If so, she will be charged with the responsibility of raising children who lost their biological parents. From the time she receives those boys and girls she nurses and looks after them.
In SOS children village the concept of a maid has no place. It is mothers and aunts that take care of their beloved children. They will nourish and nurture their ten children under a single roof with equal compassion and commitment.
Children below 15age live together under a single roof. When they reach 15 they will be transferred into another house where they will start another life, where they will start to take responsibility for themselves.
Etalemahu Gebregiorgis, she is a mother at Harar SOS village. She has joined the organization ten years back. When she started her job as a mother Etalemahu had a plan to work for a while. However, through time, when her children adoring soul clicked with her children she gave up looking for any other job. Loving and carrying those beautiful children became her primary goal. According to Etalemahu, there is an invisible umbilical cord that connects her with the children. It is difficult for her to spend a single second without them.
A four decades time has already elapsed since SOS Ethiopia children village have been operating in Ethiopia. The SOS children village has a mission to support children who lost their parents to both natural and man made disasters. It provides "alternative" parents for orphans. It lets them have true mothers , sisters and brothers.
Currently SOS Ethiopia is operating in Jimma, Addis Abeba, Harrar, Hawassa, Gode, Bahir Dar and Makalle. SOS Children's villages supports children and adolescents by providing day care, education, medical services and vocational training.
In addition to sheltering children who lost their parents, SOS is also working to reinforce families who are not in a condition to sustain their children.
According to SOS Children Village, Ethiopian Human Resource and Organization Development Manager, Michael Haile, the secret of SOS four decades successful journey is the commitment of workers and their love for children. According to him, without, the commitment of workers at SOS nothing could be fruitful. "Children are our responsibility. If we properly care for them, they are the ones who will care for us. In this regard, SOS's children are among the successors of the future of Ethiopia. There are prominent personalities that passed through SOS village.
He also said that, whenever we acknowledge, honor and appreciate Ethiopian workers the rewards is always positive. Their commitment and willingness towards those children will be more strong.
As to Michael, according to SOS children village website, SOS Children's Villages Ethiopia Strategy Plan 2009-2016, reaching out 23,000 needy children who have lost parental care and at risk of losing their parents is the set goal. In 2014 the organization had achieved good track record to support 12,714 needy Children.
It has been one of the most successful years for SOS Children's Villages Ethiopia as it has reached more target children through its Family Strengthening (FS) program. To this effect, the newly launched eight FS programs in different parts of the country and among them four FS programs had enrolled 4,312 (2210 Female) new program participants and enabled the children to start benefiting from the service.
In addition to this, in Family Based Care program, a total of 1905 (851Female) children and youths have managed to grow in a caring and supportive family environment.