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Dispatches from Ethiopia: A day in the life

Ann Speak spends some time in the SOS Children's Village in Gode.

"Early morning the children get up and go for the morning prayer on the school compound (above). They then come home, do their chores and bathe. Their SOS mother makes them breakfast, then lines them up to check if they are ready for school. School uniforms are sparkling white, school bags contain all the books and pens needed for the day`s classes and hands and faces are shiny. Passing her inspection, they leave the house around 7:30 for the flag raising ceremony at 7:45.

Meanwhile, back at home, their SOS mother starts preparing their lunch running the house, doing laundry etc. After school is over, the children go to the private school for language tutoring; they engage in sports in town and run errands for the house. Some do work in the family gardens.

Lots of activity goes on around me the closer we get to the supper hour – boys kicking a soccer ball, kids climbing trees, and the squeak of the swings can be heard between the laughter and the squeals. All of a sudden the sounds come to an end and the streets are empty again as they all head home for their meal. It reminds me of long summer days in Canada – as soon as the street lights go on, the kids go home. In the evening, the family eats outside on the veranda and enjoy family time together.

The SOS mother

Dispatches from Ethiopia: Day in a life of an SOS Village 2
An SOS mother from SOS Children's Village Gode

This mother (left) was born in a small village not far from Gode and was happy to become an SOS mother not long after she arrived. Since she has no family, husband or children of her own, she feels like this is her her family.

At the beginning she had trouble blending the children from different cultures together, but she is very happy now. They have all fallen into a routine and like any mother she is fiercely protective of her children.

She is not bothered by the long term commitment to the SOS Children`s Village. When she has a day off, she misses the children terribly and is happy to get back to the house where she feels needed. I think she is a career woman in her own right. She has control over her household, the budget, the menu, as well as many decisions in the house. She is committed to making a significant contribution to the lives of the children under her care and the community.

The SOS auntie

The SOS auntie is there to assist the mother in any way she sees fit. She takes over for the mother on her one day off per week and fills in when she is sick or has personal business to attend to. The auntie I met was born and raised in Gode. Like most women in the area she has very little education so she had few choices in her life.  She too was happy to take on the long term commitment to the children – she is fed clothed, paid and is doing something important for the children.

Day in a life of an SOS Village 4
A happy SOS family, SOS Children's Village Gode

On her day off the auntie is always happy to get back to the village – she doesn`t know what to do with herself and she misses the kids terribly. At SOS Children she has a purpose.

The evening I visited, they looked like typical children – snuggled up together on the porch mat – the occasional argument broke out but in general they were having fun – being affectionate with each other – the boys were bossing the girls around.

Even though they were shy around a stranger like me, they all came to shake my hand and ask me questions when the opportunity arose."

The SOS School

School plays a big part in the life of a child in the Village, unlike many poor children in town who do not have the privilege of school. For a fee, some children from town attend school on the SOS Village compound. The children from the Village and the community become friends, fostering greater understanding and friendships.

The SOS School is better equipped and it is considered a higher standard of teaching by most including playground stimulating maps and drawings. The SOS School Director collaborates with the school in Gode to provide resources and collaboration on school problems, and on the curriculum . The Gode school H=headteacher also knows that it`s because of SOS Children's assistance to vulnerable families in the area that many town children are able to attend school."