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The seven ages of SOS children: SOS young people

Keeping sibings together


Samir’s childhood came to an abrupt end when his father died and his mother abandoned the family.

Playing football at the Children's Village in Ait Ourir, Morocco

Life in rural Morocco is tough. At fourteen, Samir had to drop out of school and take a low-paid job to support his two younger sisters and brother – Sana, Hiba and Saber.

Then a former teacher told Samir about SOS Children’s Villages. A social worker made the necessary legal arrangements and Samir, Sana, Hiba and Saber were welcomed into an SOS family. The children now had an SOS mother to look after them, but Samir still got up early to dress his siblings for school. His SOS mother recalls “It took a lot of patience and time to earn his trust.” Eventually, Samir felt able to concentrate on his studies.

Samir is now a weekday boarder at an upper secondary school. At weekends he lives in an SOS youth home, near to his youngest siblings at the SOS Children’s Village Aït Ourir, near Marrakech.

Whenever he has time, Samir goes to see them. (In the photo, Samir is playing football with his little sister and her friend.) One day, he hopes to become a journalist or social worker and be able to reunite his family in a home of their own. Samir says “nothing would make me happier.”

With a shortage of foster and adoption places, it's common for family groups to be separated in care, though children feel happier and more secure with their brothers and sisters around. Frequently, older teenagers are also parted from younger siblings in the belief this relieves them of the burden of responsibility. However, such separations can be traumatic and counterproductive. SOS Children's Villages believes siblings should remain together.

The next Diego Rivera?


Carlos and his sisters came to the SOS Children’s Village at Ibarra in Ecuador after losing their mother to uterine cancer.

Carlos in front of the amazing mural he created on the wall of the SOS Village hall

His SOS mother, Yoli, recalls how throughout his upbringing “Carlos liked to draw all the time”.

Yoli encouraged Carlos to attend the Daniel Reyes High School in San Antonio de Ibarra. There, he studied art and at 17 won a scholarship to the United World College in Costa Rica. Having gained his International Baccalaureate, Carlos was granted another scholarship to study art in Florida, USA.

Today, the 20-year-old returns home as often as he can to see his family in Ibarra. Carlos is conscious of how his SOS home and Yoli’s encouragement have shaped his life. He says all the support enabled him to forge “my own path and to be able to follow it”.

When he goes back to college, thoughts of Carlos are never far away. Last year he worked with other SOS children to create a giant mural on the Village hall.

Carlos says he is inspired by the famous Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera (husband to Frida Kahlo). But the SOS mural is very personal to Carlos and the children at Ibarra. The words declare “Home warmth for every boy, girl and teenager”.

Editor’s note: Coincidental meetings remind us how small the world can be. The day I was writing this article on Carlos, I met Sophie, a young student doing voluntary translation work at the SOS office in Cambridge. Sophie had been to school in Costa Rica. Lo and behold, Carlos is one of her friends! Young people at the United World College come from a variety of nations, cultures and backgrounds, and thanks to our generous supporters, Carlos attended this amazing school.

It's people like you who enable young people like Carlos to realise their potential. Find out how you can help a child thrive.