It Takes a Village

Melanie Davis - Community Engagement, SOS Children's Villages

When I became a mum, everything changed.

I grew eyes in the back of my head, and I developed super hearing that could penetrate my sleep. I found my stride, and became confident in myself – both as a woman, and as a mum.

When my son was born, I remember the moment he looked directly at me and held my gaze as I cradled him in my arms. The moment our eyes met, I became a breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, attached mum—and didn’t look back. 

With my second child – a daughter – I set out on the same course. Unfortunately, life had other plans. I fell ill not long after she was born, and in a terrifying twist of fate, I temporarily lost my ability see, to walk, and to be the mother I wanted to be.

For two months, the mysterious illness left me in hospital, unable to feed or even hold my baby. It took another four months of rehabilitation to re-learn the skills I lost. During that time, I lost my independence, autonomy, and most of all, my identity – the one where I was the most important person in my daughter’s life.

But my family didn’t fall apart.

Neighbours came to the rescue, dropping off food to ensure my family enjoyed a warm meal each night. Grandparents took care of our children during the day so my husband could continue to work. I had access to the necessary medical care that helped me fully recover and return to my family.

I was lucky.

In many parts of the world, my story would have ended much differently.

In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, families are at a much greater risk of falling apart when faced with the challenges my family faced during those scary few months. When I visited Tanzania as the Director for Community Engagement for SOS Children's Villages, I witnessed that first-hand. I saw families who had fallen apart, and children who had been relinquished because one parent couldn’t take care of them on their own, after losing a partner due to illness.

But I also witnessed something incredible – the SOS Family Strengthening Program in action.

By providing support not unlike what my own family received – such as free childcare so that one parent could continue to work, medication to help a sick mother get well, and food and formula for children so they could grow and thrive – families were able to face their challenges head- on, and most importantly, stay together.

My visit to Tanzania taught me that thanks to our generous donors, mothers, families and children are getting the same kind of support, love and childhood I would want for my very own family.

The support any mother would want.

Every day SOS Children’s Villages provides support to mothers and families across the globe. When you donate today, you are empowering mothers and strengthening families. Please don't hesitate, donate now and empower a mother today.

Melanie Davis is the Director of Community Engagement for SOS Children's Villages Canada. She lives in the Alta Vista neighbourhood of Ottawa with her husband and two children.