Christina explains how she came to be an SOS mother: "My daughter made me apply” she says “When she saw the word mother, she knew it was the right calling for me." She was accepted into the Village, and began her two year training towards becoming an SOS mother. She spent the final six months of the course as an SOS ‘aunt’, (a mother’s assistant), so that she could learn about the day-to-day running of a family.
Once she completed the training, Christina took on a household of her own. She says: "On the first day I got four brothers and sisters. They didn't accept me easy. Used to eating only macaroni and beans, they hated my cooking.” Penelopi, the youngest at just one year old, was ill and malnourished. She had to be hospitalised for few days. Christina stayed with her and says it was a difficult time: “I think I didn't sleep at all in the hospital. I was scared and concerned, but never doubted I could do this. I can be their mother."
Christina's patience paid off. Within few months the children grew accustomed to their new home, although their routine was unsettled by some new arrivals into the family. "We have just settled in our daily routine, when two brothers came. The four siblings didn't like them. They didn't want me giving them attention. It takes a lot of patience to prove to each that you care just as much as for the other ones," says Christina.
Christina now has ten children in her SOS family. Such a big family brings many challenges which Christina faces and overcomes in her own way. "It's like with cooking," she says. "At first, cooking for seven was a problem for me. Now, I can't cook for less. I think that having many children and making them feel loved and cared for make you discover strength you didn't know was there."
Christina admits that she still finds it hard to let go when her children grow up. "The day Kostaki moved to the SOS Youth Homein Thessaloniki, I didn't utter a word all morning," she says. "I understand and accept the need for children's greater independence and responsibility. As a parent you feel responsibility to be there for your children, to always protect them. In my eyes they will always be my children, no matter how old they are."
Dealing with the economic crisis
Economising has always been Christina’s virtue, and in the current economic crisis which has devastated Greece, she tries to make savings in her family budget as much as possible. She says: "As a family we save on clothes, utilities, and other things. Only on food I don't make cuts. Healthy nutrition is always my priority especially when I think back of the days when they came. They all love my cooking now."
In these exceptionally hard times for her country, Christina is a pillar of strength for her children: "I do not sugar-coat the facts. My children are witnesses of these tough times. They feel insecure. I encourage them to study hard, work on their skills and be good people. We'll get through this. I look forward to a brighter future and my life as a busy grandmother."
We are supporting families in the community to deal with the current economic crisis, and where this is not possible, we welcome children into our SOS Children's Villages. Find out more about our work in Greece and how you can help.