SOS mothers care and support over 60,000 children living in 576 SOS Children's Villages. We simply couldn't do the amazing work we do without our SOS mothers. These women dedicate their lives to giving vulnerable children the futures they deserve.
SOS mothers are the dedicated women who care day to day for children when their natural parents are no longer able to do so. All children, who are taken into an SOS Children’s Village, live together with brothers and sisters and their SOS mother. SOS mothers are at the centre of our work and a key part of what makes our charity unique.
SOS mothers live with their children in a family home, support their individual needs, and celebrate special occasions with them. Many former SOS children keep in touch with their SOS mother once they grow up, showing that the same strong bond exists as between a natural mother and her child.
An SOS mother is paid a salary, is given a family budget depending on the size of her family, and runs her household herself. She is assisted by a family assistant, known as an SOS Aunt (sometimes themselves training to be an SOS mother). The SOS mother accompanies the children’s development process, and works together with the Village Director and the other staff in the Village.
Watch Muniye from SOS Children’s Village Botswana explain the special care she gives as an SOS mother, and why love is at the heart of her job.
A day in the life of an SOS mother
Marcia, who sponosr a child in Zimbabwe
“SOS mothers look after children until they are independent adults. The tender love and care these mums are able to provide is very moving”
How does SOS Children's Villages choose who becomes an SOS mother?
Women, who decide to take up the profession of an SOS mother, are carefully chosen and trained. SOS Children’s Villages looks for women whose personalities and ways of dealing with life are such that the children can easily relate to them. An SOS mother, by using her training, is able to understand the children and their life stories.
Training and further-training for SOS mothers depends on the cultural, social and economic circumstances in each region, and varies accordingly. The spectrum ranges from regional and national training centres to programmes organised in the SOS Children’s Villages, or in co-operation with other organisations. However it is organised, every prospective SOS mother completes two years of basic training. This is made up of three to six months’ theoretical teaching and the balance of practical training – that is on-the-job training.
During the theoretical part, the women are taught a wide variety of subjects, which address the range of tasks an SOS mother has to cover (education and psychotherapy for trauma, housekeeping, nutritional science, child development etc.). During the course, the qualified trainers add to the women’s previous experiences in life and learning, and thus allow the women to develop their personal, as well as their specialist abilities.
A day in the life of an SOS mother
How many children do SOS mother look after?
In developing countries, an SOS mother typically looks after between seven and ten children. In developed countries, there are typically between four and six children in an SOS family
What happens when an SOS mother retires?
When an SOS mother’s working life nears its end, she can prepare for her new life by having individual sessions or specialised seminars with other SOS mothers facing the same change.
Furthermore, the organisation is committed to offering mothers, who have reached retirement age and have worked as an SOS mother for at least fifteen years, a monthly pension, a permanent residence and medical costs until the end of their lives