The Bulnes Village is located in the central valley region of Chile. Although this region and the Village are extremely safe, Tintin offers an added sense of protection. He is quick to determine whether visitors approaching the red brick house are friends or foes.
SOS mother Griselda and the six children she cares for at the Village scream with laughter as Tintin offers his most ferocious bark. This gentle giant is the children's best friend. Griselda explains that Tintin is someone the children can trust and someone who loves them unconditionally.
A cozy winter’s day at the Village
On this cold winter's day the home is warmed by a wood stove, wafting the scent of a cozy log fire over the entire Village. Tintin's favourite place to sleep is in front of the wood stove! Griselda and her SOS children live in the Garden Home at the Village. The walls of thier home are filled with family photographs and awards, and the children's artwork hangs on the fridge door.
"Our home is filled with love and we like to share our family memories with visitors. There is still space to fill with special memories yet to come," says Griselda. Tintin has made quite the impression on his family. He is among the cherished moments proudly displayed in family photographs.
Javiera, one of the children living at the Garden Home, brings hot tea to his SOS siblings. It is homework time at the house. All of the children silently work on their school assignments as Griselda oversees their progress. The children are in class each school day from 8 in the morning to 4 pm. When the children return, Tintin welcomes them home with several excited barks and wet dog kisses. Outside of the regular school curriculum, the children take advantage of workshops their schools offers, such as sports, a maths Olympics, chess and violin.
A rocky road to the SOS Village
For Javiera, Reinaldo and Valeria, their journey to the SOS Village has been traumatic. The three brothers arrived seven years ago after enduring years of domestic violence from their biological father.
A few years ago, their father beat their mother so violently she is now a paraplegic. This tragic event did not prevent her from visiting her children at the SOS Village with SOS mother Griselda. Their biological mother continued to visit the Village until she passed away from a heart attack last December.
“The children carry these memories of their brutal past with them, and they are all receiving psychiatric care and medication,” says Griselda. “With much care and love, I have been winning their affection and understanding. Tintin has also helped bring happines to the children”
The children's father has recently been found guilty of domestic abuse and is serving time for his crimes.
A merry Christmas at the Garden Home
Some bonds never weaken. Even after her children move out to live independent adult lives, Griselda maintains a loving relationship with them. Twenty-one-year-old Robert, who lived in the Garden House since the age of three, now lives with his biological mother in Chillán, Chile.
Griselda and Robert have never drifted apart. Griselda always accompanied him to medical appointments as a child. She explains that she still worries about his health. “I care about him so much. But, he knows that he will never be alone,” she says. “I am always here for him.”
Later that evening, Robert rang the Garden House to catch up with Grisleda and his SOS siblings. Robert explains that he has adjusted to his new life, but he still misses his home in the Village. He returns each Christmas to dress up as Father Christmas for the youngsters at the Village and to visit his beloved Tintin.
"I cannot image a Christmas without my SOS family and my dog Tintin. They will always be my family, we have been through so much together," says Robert. "Seeing the children's faces light up when I come home as Santa, makes my Christmas so much more special."