SOS Children’s Villages offers 80,000 children in more than 134 countries worldwide a stable, healthy family setting that meets their emotional, nutritional, social, medical and educational needs. Specially designed to create a supportive environment where children can laugh, play, learn and make friends, the villages include 10 to 15 homes, social services professionals and recreational areas.
In short, a place where they can just be kids again.
At the heart of each of these places are the mothers of the SOS Children’s Villages. Committed women, raising a generation of children as if they were their own. They will provide them with constant care and support from infancy to adulthood.
Transat is proud to support SOS Children’s Villages. Since 2009, more than $3.2 million has been donated to the organization, primarily through the Small Change, Big Hearts program, which collects spare change at the end of every Air Transat flight. These funds have made it possible for 55 projects to be carried out in more than 20 villages in Latin America.
On Mother’s Day, Transat spoke with Andreyna. She is a mother from a village on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
What is the role of the mothers in SOS Children’s Villages?
The women who act as mothers to the underprivileged children are there to allow them to grow up in a family environment, a benevolent and positive environment that has so far been sorely lacking in their lives.
The families are there to strengthen the stability in the lives of the children and to help them to live as normal a life as possible. Every day they eat breakfast together, they go to school together, they do their homework together, they watch movies together, they play parcheesi together, they explore the neighborhood on their bicycles. They laugh, they play, they learn. But playing games on the tablet is a weekend treat!
Andreyna’s face lights up at the thought. “The kids love to pretend they work in a kitchen or in a restaurant. Every afternoon they’ll serve me coffee and say, ‘Auntie, here, drink your coffee’. It’s great fun.”
Mothers get involved
Andreyna has been involved in the SOS Children’s Villages program for seven years.
She said: “I already had two children and needed a job. But I never thought that I would become a mother of eight! But this place, these children, are such an inspiration to me. I often find myself looking forward to going to work so I can care for them. When I’m not there, I miss them.”
The children give back to her in a very special way.
What motivates me is seeing how much these children are in need of affection, care and protection. For me, it is not necessary to have experienced childbirth to be a mother. I genuinely care for these children who need me, just as a mother would.
She insists that she is learning from them as well. Their resilience, their way of being and their way of looking at life – all of this, according to Andreyna, makes her a better person. She concludes: “In their own way, they have taught me how to be a better mother.”
A vital presence in the Dominican Republic
In the Dominican Republic, more than one million children live in poverty. To such an extent that some 578,000 children under the age of 15 are not cared for by their parents.
This is a clear economic statement. 20 percent of the population of the Dominican Republic has to live on less than two U.S. dollars a day.
I have to be an example for them to see what steps to take to get a good education and achieve their goals in life. The impact I want to have is for them to be good children today so that they can be even greater adults tomorrow.
Los Mina was inaugurated by SOS Children’s Villages Dominican Republic in 1984. Today, the village cares for more than 90 orphaned and abandoned children and adolescents in 11 family homes. SOS also supports 18 young people in transition to adulthood who live in rental apartments in Santo Domingo. Most of them are enrolled in university or in a vocational training program.
What is the mission of the SOS Children’s Villages in the Dominican Republic?
To provide children with a loving home in which they can grow and develop to their full potential. Growing up with quality parental care has enduring intergenerational benefits. In fact, 90 percent of the children who have come through the SOS Children’s Villages go on to build strong family relationships and support networks thus breaking the cycle of abandonment.