A personal story from a long time volunteer

Maria VirjeeNothing in life is as strong as a mother’s love for her children. I had that kind of love from my mother when I was little – and I know that much of why I am the woman I am today is because of that incredible love.

Life’s greatest tragedy – in my opinion at least – is a child who must struggle through his or her early years without the support and guidance of a loving mother. That’s why I consider it such a noble cause to help orphaned and abandoned children find a mother’s love when that tragedy occurs.

It’s also why I’m such a fervent supporter of SOS Children’s Villages Canada. This is the one organization in the world that finds lifelong mothers for lost children – and helps them grow in homes and villages where they belong to a family, a neighbourhood and a community.

I know SOS Children’s Villages and its work better than most I suppose. I was born and raised in Austria, where this organization was founded after the Second World War. As I was growing up, SOS Children’s Villages was as well known to me as the Red Cross or Salvation Army probably are to you.

More than 40 years ago now, I was one of a handful of volunteers who helped launch the first SOS Children’s Villages office in Canada. In a very small way we started to raise funds and make people aware of the wonderful work of this organization. I had emigrated here to work as a translator for the Canadian Government and had married a man who was born in India.

From kitchen tables, we began to raise funds and make people aware of the wonderful work of this organization. I’ve dedicated much of my life to SOS Children’s Villages since then – and it’s all been incredibly rewarding. My involvement with this organization has truly been one of my life’s great blessings. I have always believed that a kindness done for others is a kindness done to one’s self.

In the early ‘70s, when a new SOS Children’s Village opened in India, my husband, who came from India, and I decided to sponsor a brother and sister who had been brought there. These two precious babies had been left in front of a police station with a little note that read

‘I can’t look after them anymore. Please do something.’

Maria Virjee visiting SOS familyOne of the most inspiring experiences of my life was visiting those children and their SOS mother. While the poverty and pollution outside of the SOS Village was a shock to me, I was filled with joy at meeting this SOS family and feeling the happiness that pervaded their SOS home. I knew then and there that our sponsorship of those children had given them the love and nourishment they needed to grow and thrive.

In 2004, I decided to plan the charitable gift of my lifetime. I named SOS Children’s Villages Canada as a beneficiary in my Will. In the seven years since then, I’ve never had the slightest doubt that this was the right decision for me.

Of course, I will never meet the children who will benefit from my gift after I’m gone. But, it gives me the greatest pleasure to see them in my mind’s eye. Laughing, playing and learning. Being tucked in at night. Chattering at the breakfast table. Skipping off to school.

These images in my mind will give me great pleasure for the rest of my days on this earth.

If you love children as I do, I sincerely hope you will give careful consideration to making a legacy gift to SOS Children’s Villages Canada yourself. Even a small portion of your estate can give children a home, warmth, happiness, a good education and medical care – and most importantly, an SOS mother who will raise them until adulthood.

Thank you for permitting me to share this with you.

Maria Virjee
Volunteer Past President
SOS Children’s Villages Canada