10-year-old Daniel had a particularly traumatic start in life. Every day he lived in fear of the beatings his father would give him and his entire body was regularly covered in painful bruises.
A tough start in life
The area surrounding the Pachacamac Village is a popular tourist destination, well-known for its extraordinary archaeological sites. The countryside is dotted with country clubs with fancy restaurants and turquoise swimming pools, but it is an area rife with social deprivation. 34% of the population live in poverty and 5% of all children Pachacamac are malnourished. Many of the area’s children are vulnerable to abuse and violence.
One day, Daniel’s father caught him taking some money from the house to buy a toy car, he was beaten brutally and thrown out onto the street. With nowhere to go, his bed became a cardboard box on the curb. Found by some neighbours several months later, he was taken into care. That’s when SOS Children’s Villages became aware of his plight.
A new start
Fast-forward a year and Daniel is thriving. He now has his own bedroom with a proper bed and a racing car bedspread that he picked out himself! His room is full of light and has a beautiful view of the fields that surround the Village. In one year his life has changed immeasurable and it’s still hard for him to believe his new home is real.
He loves his new family and has become fast-friends with his SOS brothers and sisters. Sarah, five, is his youngest sister. She also had a tough start in life but has quickly adapted to life in the Village. “She stuck to me straight away, calling me mamma,” smiles Mama Merche. “She loves having a new home and a proper family.”
The process of adapting to life in the Village wasn’t quite as quick or easy for seven-year-old Mark. It has been difficult for him to accept that he now had someone to care for him. The Village psychologists have been working with him to help get him to trust Mama Merche and understand that she is there to love, support and nurture him. “Last week he called me mamma for the first time,” beams Mama Merche.
Being an SOS mother to six children with complex needs is no easy feat and Mama Merche admits to feeling overwhelmed in the first week. “There was just so much to do,” she says. “From the practical things to ensure the children had everything they needed to the emotional support they so desperately craved.”
Over the past year, she has been working hard to build a positive and loving family home. “None of them had a real home before, a bed or even someone who was interested in them,” she explains. “Some of them grew up on the street with no values and no rules. They had no idea how to use knives and forks when they arrived. They’d never had a timetable, habits or rules. We’re working on creating positive habits.”
The new family is the smallest in the Village – but not for long! Three more children will be joining over the coming weeks.