Three siblings thrive in their SOS family

Thursday, July 22, 2021
Ana helping out

The emotional wounds Ana* suffered in her childhood are slowly fading, but the physical scars will remain for a lifetime and be a constant reminder of a past she would rather forget.


Ana lives with her younger sister Sam* and brother Dito* in an SOS family in Mozambique. They were the first children to join the SOS Children’s Village in Chimoio when it opened in 2011. To these children, their SOS family is a place of healing and a place for new beginnings.


The siblings lost their parents in 2009. Their father was an alcoholic and often beat their mother. On the day she died, the beating was severe and Ana, five years old at the time, watched in horror. As her mother lay on the floor in pain, Ana ran out to call her grandmother but she arrived too late. Their children’s father passed away shortly after that.


When both their parents died, the children’s uncle took the three siblings into his care but he had no means to meet their basic needs and his wife wasn’t able to properly care for them. The siblings suffered abuse and neglect, and often went for days without food. Ana begged in the neighbourhood for scraps or anything she could find. After a while, Dito ran away from home to live on the streets. The local social welfare department rescued Ana and Sam from her uncle’s house after two years and placed them in the care of SOS mother Elias Matende.


The two sisters were malnourished and had developed a bad infection by the time their SOS mother Matende first met them.


We entered the door and our SOS mother hugged us,” recalls Ana. “She bathed us and helped clean our bodies. We could not see our finger nails because they were so eaten-up. It was painful to take a bath and we cried.


SOS Mother and siblings


The children were not afraid of me which gave me courage to attend to them,” adds Matende. “I tried to remove the fleas but they were everywhere. Then I took the girls to the hospital.” Ana’s hands were incapacitated, She could not hold a spoon and her SOS mother had to feed her. The girls also had difficulty walking upright.


Since Ana and Sam could not access health care to treat their infection earlier, it has started to reach their limbs and had become very painful. If left untreated, the infection could have been fatal.


I became clean when I started living here with my SOS family and that pleased me,” says seventeen-year-old Ana. “I felt appreciated and at home which is a good feeling. My bedroom is beautiful. I will never forget that my SOS mother prepared rice and roasted fish on the day we arrived. We were so relieved and happy to have a mother to care and protect us.


Dito, 16, lived on the streets for four months, before the social welfare team, with help from his uncle, tracked him down in Chimoio. They brought him to the SOS family to be with his sisters.


I was very sad at my uncle’s. I was always crying because I could see my sisters were in bad shape due to the disease,” says Dito. “We wanted to make friends but our neighbour’s children did not want to play with us. I ran away to search for food in the bins hoping my sisters could have enough food to eat at home,” he says.


SOS Children’s Villages ensures that children without parental care grow up in a family, where they receive the support they need to thrive and build a successful adult life.


I received help and warmth here, my mother gave me a bath, new cloths, new slippers and she gave me food,” adds Dito. “Here [at SOS] I have made many new friends. They helped me fight the disease and I enrolled in school.”


Dito wants to be an electrician in future because he likes fixing electrical appliances. “I fixed my mother’s electric kettle and it works perfectly,” he says with a sense of pride.


Siblings stay together


Siblings placed in the care of SOS Children’s Villages are not separated, that is why Dito came to live in the same house as his sisters. Keeping them together is important to preserve their family bond.


Siblings together


My sisters and I share a lot together – we share stories about our past and suffering. I was so happy to see my two sisters and I was surprised that they were also here,” says Dito. “I am thankful for all the support we have received from our SOS mother. I am grateful for a new family because we are happy here.”


Ana and Sam have since healed from their infection. Psychological support sessions have helped the siblings process their past hurts and look positively to the future.


“I want to forget what happened between my parents, and everything else, and move on,” says Ana bravely, though it is painful for her to talk about it. “When I sleep at night, I see myself constructing my own house where I will care for children living on the street. I want to create a home environment for children who have lost parents and keep brothers and sisters together. I thank God for protecting us up to here and for changing our story.”


*Names changed to protect the children’s privacy.


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