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In 1992, SOS Children's Villages established an emergency relief programme in Tete when the harvest failed because of drought throughout southern Africa. Since then, the programme has been repeated annually with the aid focused on children suffering from malnutrition, mothers and pregnant women. An outreach programme for children in neighbouring villages was set up in 1995 which provides day care and regular meals for over one hundred small children … more about our charity work in Mozambique

A celebration of parents

A celebration of parents

163 million children are growing up as orphans. 18.5 million of them have no parents at all. We know that parents are irreplaceable in the life of a child, which is why our SOS mothers, fathers and couples are dedicated to looking after the children in their care to the best of their ability. They not only meet the daily needs of the children, but provide endless love and support.

On this Global Day of Parents, we explore some case studies showing the importance of great parenting to children across the world.

On this page:

An SOS mother standing in front of her house with her children
Iria and her family pose outside their home

A mother’s unconditional love

Iria is an SOS mother in SOS Children’s Village Inhambane, Mozambique, and is affectionately known as Mama Iria. She is mother to ten SOS children between the ages of seven and twelve. Her eldest is 12 year-old Tania who remembers what it was like when she met Mama Iria: “I was really upset to leave my home because I didn’t know what would happen to me, but then I came here and Mama Iria welcomed me and promised she would take care of me”.

Iria does everything for her children; she helps them with their homework, makes sure they behave, washes their clothes, cooks, cleans and provides an endless supply of hugs and kisses.

For Iria, all the children in her SOS House are equal to her biological children – she loves them all unconditionally. “Today, my family is large and my children are growing up into wonderful people. This makes me so proud,” she beams.

Sharing the joys of parenting together

SOS father and his sons posing for a photo in their home
Vasko is proud of his sons

When Vasko’s wife became an SOS mother in SOS Children’s Village Skopje, Macedonia, it didn’t take long for him to decide to join her and become an SOS father. “Our family and friends were thrilled,” says Vasko. “For years they had been saying that I should work with children”.

Vasko and Ljubica care for five children, all biological brothers. The youngest is six and the oldest 16. The boys, Nikola, Aleksandar, Kristijan, Kire and Vlatko, have a deeply troubled life story. Vasko isn’t fazed by the difficulties he faces in his role though. Despite working from eight to six every day, he spends every spare moment possible with the boys.

Vakso and Ljubica divide the care of the boys between them. Vasko’s day begins with taking the children to school. With everyone out the way, Ljubica is free to get the house in order, attend teacher-parent meetings and prepare food for her lively family. Vasko knows he would have a much harder time without Ljubica. “We've been married for a long time and we’re always on the same page and help each other in every situation,” he says.

Vasko and Ljubica have worked hard to make sure their SOS children are well integrated into the couple’s broader family. All the children love it when Vasko and Ljubica’s grown-up children come to visit. “They know when their big brother and sister come it's time for a day at the zoo or in the park," laughs Vasko.

“I love these children as my own," says Vasko, his eyes glossing over. "For them, it is very important that they feel this – that they feel that someone truly loves them and cares that they have a happy, carefree childhood. They know that when they grow up, they have someone they can call whenever they want to. They have parents who are always there for them. They know they have a family.”

An SOS father becomes a role model

Karen began working for SOS Children’s Village Idjevan, Armenia, as a driver. He and his wife, Sonya, lived near to the village and started visiting often. They quickly came to love the children and got increasingly attached to them. When there was a request for more couples to become SOS parents, Vasko and Sonya volunteered. They haven’t looked back.

SOS father helps his daughters with the gardening
Karen having fun gardening with his daughters

“I will always remember the day when we moved in the village. My wife was doing the cleaning and I picked the children up from the Crisis Care Centre and brought them to their new home. When we arrived, the oldest girl, Shogher, said, ‘Guys, isn't it cool?! Now we also have a father to live with us!’ that was a special moment”.

Since then, Karen has become a role model for his children, especially his sons. “They want to be like me in everything,” he laughs. “Sometimes even when I just stand with my hands on my hips, I see Khachik and Armen standing the same way like I do.”

As Karen has discovered, it isn’t always fun and games. He recently found out that two of his daughters had been stealing. But dealing with such challenges is all part of the job of a parent. Karen got all the children together and talked to them about why lying and stealing are bad. Together they watched a cartoon which shows the house of a cat, who always lies and steals, on fire. When he calls for help no one believes him and the house burns down.

Karen knows that bringing up children is a huge responsibility, “if I don’t make them feel safe and confident, who else will?”

Find out more

These stories have demonstrated how the care, attention and love shown to each child are what determine the quality of parenting, irrespective of biological relationship. All our SOS parents treat their SOS children as if they were their own, giving them the same advice, discipline and support as their own children. Ultimately, their SOS children are part of their family.

If you would like to find out more, visit our dedicated SOS mother’s page.