As in all families, the good health of each member cannot be taken for granted. Our SOS mothers are luckier than some mothers who live in the community surrounding the village: there is always someone at hand to help out with the children - other SOS mothers, aunties (family helpers) and the older children in the village are always willing to help in an emergency.
When SOS mother Maria Ines Manhica had to spend a few days recovering at home after minor surgery, she was touched by everyone's concern, but especially that shown by her youngest son, Inocencio.
A worrying time
Inocencio Francisco was worried. His mother had been away for a few days, and even though she was now at home, she was lying down in her bedroom. Many people from the village had been to the house to see his mummy.
One of the 'big girls' from the youth facility had come in last night to cook dinner for him and his ten brothers and sisters. Almost everyone had told him to be good and to run outside to play. Before he went outside, Inocencio decided to pay yet another trip to the toilet. Actually, he did not need to go, but to get to the bathroom, he had to go past his mummy's bedroom door. Walking slowly, with his head turned to one side, Inocencio could peer through the half opened door and see his mummy.
There she was, propped up on pillows, talking to one of the other mothers. She was still there when he came back, but now he could see that she looked tired. As the youngest child in the family, Inocencio usually did what he was told, so he went outside to play. It did not stop him thinking about his mother, though.
"What is the matter, mummy?"
The next morning, just after breakfast, while everyone else in the house was busy getting ready for school, eight-year-old Inocencio crept into his mother's bedroom. "What is the matter mummy? You look sick. Are you really sick?" "Yes," she told Inocencio gently, "but soon I will be well again, I just need to rest for a few days."
Inocencio did not look very sure about what she said. Inside, he was still worried about his mummy. "Come on, mummy," he said, "let me do some praying for you so that the Lord will give you a speedy recovery."
Get well soon
Without giving Maria Ines a chance to say anything, Inocencio had closed his eyes and folded his hands in prayer. "Lord, please bless my mother. Help her to get well and feel all right."
Then, feeling that he had done all that he could, and satisfied that his mother would be well again soon, Inocencio gave his mother a grin and a hug and jumped off her bed and ran to get his breakfast.
"The prayer," says Maria Ines, "made me feel as happy as if I had had a miraculous cure. I felt comfort indeed."
As the mother who has been with SOS Children's Village Maputo the longest (eleven years), Maria Ines is more used to giving comfort to the children in her care than receiving it from them. However, it is a sign of the quality of her care for the children that even the youngest one shows his affection for her so openly.