The future of a child without parental care can be bleak. Aside from the obvious personal trauma, losing parental care can mean an increased risk of dropping out of school and being forced into paid or unpaid work. Lone children are also more likely to experience health problems such as malnutrition, and are at far greater risk of exploitation and abuse.
13 year old girl from SOS Children's Village Tirana
“I am one of those children. I came to the SOS Children's Village because I didn't have a mother. Here I found one, I have my SOS mother. I love and cherish her. She cares that I'm well, healthy and happy. She makes sure I have what I need and grow up to be strong and independent. I love my SOS mother.”
With an estimated 220 million children without the care of a mother or father, there is an obvious need for care solutions which meet not only a child’s basic needs, but their economic and psychological needs as well. So, since our founding, at SOS Children’s Villages we have pioneered family-based child care which is designed to provide a child with everything he or she might need, right up until independence.
In each SOS Children’s Village, groups of orphaned or abandoned children are cared for in family homes by women who have dedicated their lives to be SOS mothers. An SOS mother commits to raising a generation of children as her own and must be able to meet their physical and emotional needs from infancy right up until adulthood. SOS mothers are carefully chosen, undertake lengthy training, are paid a salary and run their own household with a family budget. A typical Children’s Village has 10-15 homes and includes a nursery school, a primary and secondary school, a medical centre and a social centre – all of which are open to the local community. When our young people are ready to leave the Village, they stay in SOS Youth Homes until they are ready for independent life.
Our model of caring for lone and vulnerable children is unique, and has been working successfully since the first SOS mother and family moved into our first SOS Children’s Village in 1949. Today, in 125 countries worldwide, 6,000 SOS mothers care for 59,000 children and young people. Every day we see children completely transformed thanks to the love and care of their new ‘mum’.