View of the village - CV Nairobi, Kenya…
Mothering from the heart
View of the village - CV Nairobi, Kenya
Mothering from the heart
There are many reasons why a woman chooses to become an SOS mother. Usually it is because she has an interest in children and sometimes it is because she has been touched by a child in the past. Gladys was one of the last group who realised that caring for her dead sister's baby had awoken a deep longing in her heart.
Ten years ago Gladys's 29-year-old sister died in childbirth. A social worker by profession, Gladys was left to take care of a new born baby. It was not easy, but despite the struggle Gladys realised that she was good at it and that if she could take care of her sister's child she could also take care of other needy children.
When she saw the advertisement for SOS mothers in a national paper in 2000, Gladys knew only that SOS Children's Villages was something to do with children, but that was enough to make her apply. With her social work background and her experience with her sister's child, Gladys was selected and began work as an "SOS auntie (family helper)"at the SOS Children's Village Eldoret in 2001. Meanwhile her other sister, a nurse, took over the daily care of their niece.
Not easy to be accepted
In 2003 Gladys was transferred to the Nairobi children's village where she was due to take over as an SOS mother in a house where the former mother of nearly 30 years was now retiring. "It was not easy to be accepted by the family", she explained. "The children couldn't really believe that their mother was leaving." But thanks to the help of the first SOS mother, the village director and to Gladys's own training in social work, the children eventually came round to accepting her. That seems a long time ago now. Since then two older children have left for university and two have just finished secondary school. Gladys has also received several new children into her home, one of them a very special person.
In the same year that she became a fully fledged SOS mother Gladys got five new children, four young ones and twelve-year-old Otto from Uganda. Otto was found by SOS co-workers in a reception centre in northern Uganda, having been shot through the face after he was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army who had been leading a long-term 'rebellion' in northern Uganda. SOS Children's Villages took him back to Nairobi for medical treatment and he was placed in Gladys's care.
Gladys felt blessed
Despite the difficulties of looking after a seriously injured child who spoke neither English nor Kiswahili, Gladys felt that she had been blessed. "I accepted Otto the way he was and took him with all the love I could give", she said, "and everyone in the village cared for him and helped me." Since then Otto has been treated in both Nairobi and in Europe and still lives with Gladys and her SOS family as part of the family. He is currently attending the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary School in Nairobi and has become a popular boy in the village.
Recently Gladys was given three more children to look after - two small girls and a twelve-month-old baby, Ambrose. In fact Gladys's baby is one of five new babies in the village at the moment and thus has plenty of age mates to play with.
So, nine years later, does Gladys have any regrets about becoming an SOS mother? Definitely not she asserted.
"I like being a mother because I feel an attachment to the children and my heart always made me want to help disadvantaged children. It is a calling and through the grace of God I am managing," Gladys concluded as she played with little Ambrose on her lap.
Boy sitting in classroom - CV Nairobi, Kenya
The children of the SOS Kindergarten Nairobi celebrate their culture.
Celebrating Culture at the SOS Kindergarten Nairobi
The SOS Kindergarten Nairobi was in a joyous mood on Saturday 18 March, when the children held their first Annual Cultural Day, a celebration of the numerous different tribes that make up the population of Kenya.
There are many tribes and vernacular languages in Kenya, emanating from different regions and varied ethnic backgrounds and in the capital city, Nairobi, they all come together. So it is not surprising that in the SOS Kindergarten Nairobi the children come from ten different tribes. It seemed fitting, said the kindergarten principal, Elisa Obudo that the children should know where they come from and should appreciate each other's culture. That is why she decided to celebrate the Kenyan culture in a Cultural Day.
Each class represented a different tribe
The children aged from three to seven years had spent several weeks rehearsing for the big day. Each of the three classes was given a culture to represent in dance, song and poetry. One class dressed as the pastoralist Masai, a small Nilotic tribe which keeps large herds of cattle, usually around the Tanzanian border. The children wore bright red 'shukas' (traditional Masai clothing) and the girls also decorated their foreheads with coloured beads that are a part of Masai culture. Another class represented the Nilotic speaking Luo tribe from western Kenya, the third largest tribe in the country. The third class, meanwhile, portrayed the Kalenjin tribe, a grouping of Nilotic speaking people from the western edge of the central Rift Valley area. Former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi was a Kalenjin.
The cultural celebration consisted of a concert given by the children followed by an accomplished cultural group from outside the village who danced and sang for the audience. The show was rounded off with an informal fashion display when children, teachers and parents, who had also dressed in cultural attire, took to the stage to show off their various designs.
The celebration also included a short Masai song and dance by caregivers from the SOS Street Children's Programme (which takes place at the adjoining SOS Social and Medical Centre). The children attend school and were unable to rehearse so their caregivers decided to do it instead.
The celebrations end with a sumptuous feast
After the formal event ended the children and their parents were treated to a sumptuous feast of different cultural foods prepared by the SOS Kindergarten staff. These included irio, a Kikuyu dish made from maize, peas and potatoes. (One of the parents gave the recipe below.) Also available was rech, a boiled fish from Lake Victoria, porridge from Embu, and muthokoi, crushed white maize from the Kamba tribe, amongst many other delicacies.
Master of Ceremonies at the celebrations was village educator Beatrice Ongalo who commented, "It was wonderful seeing the children performing the different cultural dances. It shows just how diverse the 'SOS community' is."
How to make Irio, a traditional Kikuyu dish
You need: green maize (undried), peas, potatoes and traditional leaves for flavour and colour (pumpkin leaves or similar). First boil the maize, then add the peas and leaves to the water with the maize. Finally add the raw potatoes. When all is cooked, drain and mash.