10-year-old Luda felt fear for the first time in her life when she was taken to an orphanage just a day after her mother's funeral. It was the saddest afternoon of that autumn in 2005 and the only thing bluer than the little girl's eyes was her mood. She wept and feared for her future.
The orphanage turned out to be temporary solution. Only a couple of weeks later, Luda came to the care of SOS mother Shorena in SOS Children's Village Tbilisi. The house was warm, dry and bright, the other four children were smiling and this woman had a pleasant smile, but none of this was familiar to Luda. She was still afraid.
Looking for a mother
"I was the first person from the village with whom Luda had contact," explains child educator Ia. "My relatives were neighbours of Luda's and they asked me to help her out somehow. I went to see her, got the guardian's consent and she moved to the village. But she didn't click with her "SOS family" right away."
Confused Luda found herself spending hours in Ia's office under the excuse of needing help with homework. She would follow her around the village and sadly see her off in the evenings. "At New Year's most children went to celebrate with their biological relatives," explains Ia. Only Luda had no place to go.
Ia asked SOS mother Shorena if it would be OK for Luda to spend New Year's with her family. Shorena agreed, thinking it would help the girl adapt quicker. "That night in my home Luda said to me 'you are a real mother'. I realized she was making a connection with me and not with Shorena, so I decided to back off," explains Ia.
Two mothers for Luda
Ia and Shorena continued to cooperate closely on helping Luda adapt. At first Luda wondered why Ia was given so much extra work and that she couldn't stay in the office for hours like before. She started spending more time with her SOS mother and the two created a strong bond in short time. But Ia was not gone from Luda's life.
"One day Luda asked me if she'd been baptised," explains Shorena. "I told her she hadn't been yet. She then said she would like to be baptised and she would like Ia to be her godmother." Ia accepted with tears in her eyes. "It was truly one of the most emotional moments in my life," admits Ia.
Luda was baptised in the near-by Orthodox Church at the end of January this year. She walked into the church hand in hand with her SOS mother and Ia. She told the priest that the woman on her left was her SOS mother and the woman on her right was her spiritual mother.
"When my mother died, I thought I'd spend my life alone and I was scared. Now I have two mothers. I'm not scared and I know I will live in happiness," wrote Luda in her journal.