“Home is where you feel at home and are treated well.” – Dalai Lama
The Gift of Family
“For almost 12 years of living here in SOS Children’s Village Calbayog (Philippines), with my SOS family, I have learnt that a good foundation of a loving home does not count by blood relation, but it is through unconditional love, understanding and respect”, Mildred* shares.
Mildred, now 14, was only two (2) years old when she was welcomed in SOS Calbayog along with her older and younger brothers. Together, they were raised and cared by an SOS Mother, whom they dearly call Mama. ”I am so fortunate that here in SOS I have a Mama, my brothers, my SOS siblings, and lots of aunties and uncles!” This is the kind of family she’s been longing for. With just the thought of not living here in SOS haunts her, thus it makes her appreciate more of what she has now. “Sometimes I could not help but think, what would happen if I was not brought here?” voicing out her thoughts. “Maybe I would end up in the streets with little food to eat; begging from strangers, wearing dirty clothes, and missing the opportunity to go to school”.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Just like any other mother, Mama Wilma makes sure that Mildred and her siblings do not walk on the wrong path. “Mama would always say that education is the most important thing of all”, says Mildred, remembering what her SOS Mama would always tell her. “It is only through education, coupled with hard work, that we will be able to achieve our dreams”. Mildred added that her Mama is very caring and understanding despite the fact that they are seven (7) children in the house. “We don’t have to compete for her attention because we can feel her equal love for us”. As for her and her siblings, she mentioned that doing their everyday chore is their bonding time. “We help Mama with the household chores and we make sure that she’s always smiling and is happy”.
Even though she does not have a biological sister, SOS gave her four (4) house siblings whom she can call her own. “We like to share our school experiences and interests” says Mildred. “We are similar in age which makes it easy for us to communicate with one another. Oftentimes, we like hanging around talking until we drop. Having a sister is every girls’ dream, lucky me, I have four.”
Dreams and Aspirations
One of the many things that Mildred learned from her Mama is that dreams are for free. Inpired by such thoughts, she started dreaming of her future and finding interest in the different cultures of different countries. “I started to get curious about these difficult names of countries to pronounce, I want to go there”, shares Mildred. “I know that there is a job for that, be a Stewardess. I think it’s going to be a fantastic job! So, I told Mama about it and she said that it is not impossible as long as I believe wholeheartedly that I can do it and strive harder”.
As Mildred aspire to make her dreams a reality, she continuously gives pride to her Mama through academic excellence. “I study hard because I want to reach my dreams, my aspiration of becoming a Stewardess. Then I’ll be able to bring my SOS family with me on my travels. By then, I too, will be able to return the favor to SOS”.
*Name and image changed to protect the privacy of the child.