My name is Irene Santiago Soriano. I am 55 years old and I have been a caregiver in the SOS Children's Village of Mexico City for five years. I currently care for seven young people between the ages of 14 and 19.
Please tell us something you did during the pandemic?
We have to take care of ourselves and take all precautionary measures. I recently lost a relative to this [COVID-19] disease.
Also, now we value much more what we used to take for granted, we had a lot of freedom and today we are restricted. Children often complain and talk about missing life as it was before, but I always tell them that we must continue to take care of ourselves until the vaccines arrive.
Besides spending time with the family, we talk. It is sometimes difficult for them to understand that they cannot see other young people from other houses. When they are stressed, they play soccer with each other and that helps them.
How do you stay relaxed and calm at home, despite the current pandemic scenario?
With the children, besides spending time with the family and organizing different activities, such as watching movies and playing board games, we have a WhatsApp group with the other caregivers to make schedules for each house to use the common areas, so I reserve the soccer field for them so they can run and de-stress.
For me personally, what has helped me are the meetings with other caregivers, although they are remote, they are great help. We have workshops called Caring for someone who cares, where we talk and share how we feel, we also have a WhatsApp group where we share reflections and words of encouragement. Also, I talk to my family members and they give me the strength to keep going.
What advice do you have for living with and educating seven adolescents in a pandemic?
All of us SOS mothers have the same goal, we are going in the same direction, which is to help these children, adolescents and young people to succeed in life, to be good people and to continue studying. It is up to us that we build values and good habits for their lives. Of course, each person is different, and each person has their own way of getting there.
What has helped me is to instil good values and habits, while providing limits and rules. That will serve them wherever they go. Along the way, ties are created, guidance and life advice are given.
You have to talk a lot to the children to gain their trust. Above all, nowadays, it is very important to talk with them, listen to them and develop activities where they channel their energy, such as gardening, cooking and sports.