Keeping siblings together: fostering a nurturing bond in care

The loss of parental care, whether due to unforeseen circumstances, abuse, or neglect, is a devastating experience for any child. In these challenging situations, it is crucial to ensure that children feel loved, cared for and protected so that they can grow and thrive.  

Naol* and Beki*, are a pair of incredibly resilient twins from SOS Children’s Village Jimma in Ethiopia. Despite being born prematurely, the twins have flourished into strong and healthy nine-and-a-half-year-olds, with the love and support of their devoted caregiver, Bizunesh Shiferaw.

“I have a very special love for both of these children. They were only 17 days old when they came to me,” Bizunesh reminisces. “Seeing them now, looking strong and healthy, and living a happy life with me and the rest of the family, fills my heart with joy.”

After the twins’ biological mother passed away, their father was unable to care for them, and they were brought to the SOS Children’s Village community to live with Bizunesh. 

“Beki is kind to me. She always helps me with anything she can, she also likes telling me funny stories. We are very close and hang out together at school and at home.”

“The children were in a fragile situation. It was a rush against time to save their lives. I was not sure how this story would end. Beki’s condition was particularly critical. I gave them all the love and care they needed, day and night, carefully providing nutrition and medication as ordered by doctors. And thank God for all the people who supported the children, Beki steadily recovered.”

Beki and Naol, now in the fourth grade, share only their birthday as a similarity. Naol is outgoing and mischievous, while Beki is more reserved and quieter, sometimes relying on Naol to speak for her. Despite occasional sibling rivalry, they are fiercely protective of one another.

Bizunesh firmly believes that keeping the siblings together has been crucial for their wellbeing and has fostered strong bonds between them. She believes that children in care have already suffered loss and sometimes abuse and neglect, so separating siblings would only add to their trauma. 

“Living together has helped their emotional and physical development in many ways. They feel stable and happy in their life,” she explains. “Raising them together has played a great role in maintaining a positive development in their life.”

Naol and Beki are in touch with their biological father, and they know him well. The family is on a path towards reunification, although he is still not able to bring the twins home. 

“They frequently talk to their father on the phone,” says Bizunesh. “I let them talk to him whenever they want. They also visit him in the summer during school break. Beki and Naol will go and live with him permanently when he is ready to raise them.”  

Stay up to date