Twins, Naol* and Beki* were born two months premature in a rural village in southwest Ethiopia five years ago. Their single mother died shortly after the delivery, leaving the infant twins with no one to care for them – a common occurrence in Ethiopia, where maternal and infant mortality rates are amongst the highest in the world. SOS mother Bizunesh remembers cradling the tiny twins in the palm of her hands when she welcomed them into her family in our village community in Jimma.
From the moment she held the twins in her arms, Bizunesh knew they would need more than just a loving home. Preterm babies like Naol and Beki often suffer from respiratory and heart complications and can sometimes develop long term health problems that require dedicated medical care. Bizunesh made sure the twins received all the medical support they needed to help them survive and thrive.
More important than just their medical care, Bizunesh knew the twins needed each other. “Sibling relationships are emotionally powerful and critically important – not only in childhood but over the course of a lifetime,” Bizunesh tells us. She is convinced the relationship the twins share has been crucial to their recovery.
Living in the SOS village community, Bizunesh has watched the twins grow into happy and healthy five-year-olds. Naol loves playing football with his friends and Beki enjoys singing and dancing to traditional Ethiopian music.
A bond like no other
SOS Children’s Villages knows how important it is for brothers and sisters to stay together. We therefore work with local authorities to ensure that any siblings we help have the chance to grow up in the same family home. The trauma of family breakdown can be devastating to a child, however by keeping siblings together we can offer stability and help children retain a positive sense of family identity.
“When children lose their parents, being with their brothers and sisters can enhance their sense of safety and well-being. That is why we always try to keep siblings together, so they can support each other, and offer a sense of belonging that is so important for children,” Bizunesh says.
Recently, SOS Children’s villages found Naol and Beki’s biological father, who visits them regularly and is slowly building a relationship with his children. Unfortunately, he is not able to care for them full time, but he is hopeful that in the future he will be financially stable enough to be reunited with Naol and Beki, with the help of the SOS team.
Until then, Naol and Beki are growing up feeling loved, safe and supported. Looking back at photos of when they first arrived, Bizunesh can hardly believe how much they have grown.
“The twins have a special place in my heart,” she tells us with a smile, as the twins arrive home from nursery school and run into her arms for a hug.
*Names changed to protect identities.
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