A child from SOS Children's Village Bucharest, Romania
Another entry from Oana in Romania and Kiara in Ghana
I thought I'd look back at Christmas this time. This December was a particularly busy but full of excitement both for our children and ourselves. The activities started right on the beginning of the month and ended with the final days of the past year.
It would take pages just to dedicate a few lines for each event that we had, so we’ll have to be brief: we had employees of a national-coverage television- Prima TV-come and offer gifts for each child; sponsors of the SOS Children’s Villages such as Beiesdorf- Nivea, Dr. Oetker, Class Living- Camelia Sucu also came as Santa’s helpers and rewarded the excellent behavior and result of our children with wonderful gifts; Procter& Gamble asked us to visit their head offices to sing carols and meet the old man in the red suit in order to further encourage our little ones; employees of the Royal Bank of Scotland also visited us in order to stage a little Christmas Party.
In exchange for all the efforts of our friends, and to say thank you in an original way, on the 22nd of December, our children sang carols, recited poems, danced modern, folk dances, gave a ballet representation and offered a altogether brilliant show for all the friends, guests, families and employees of SOS Children’s Villages Romania.
Because in order to receive is very important to know how to give in return, the children from our Village visited the Saint Nicolas state orphanage, where they offered toys, sweets, cosmetics, books and fruits to some children not as lucky as them. The “thank you” that they received in return melted everyone’s hearts.
As part of the general conspiracy for a brilliant December, the weather was on our side too: we had lots of snow and sun. The children made snowmen, rode sleds down on the little hill in our yard and orchestrated epic snow fights! Right now the temperature is warmer and all the snow is gone, but we have a good fix for that- we’re getting ready to hit the ice-skating ring!
The past month is by far the busiest of the year, but in the same time the greatest when it comes to bring happy smiles on the faces of our children and meeting our friends.
P.S. The air still smells like trees and Christmas cookies
I boarded the plane to Accra with a vague promise that someone would meet me at the airport. Happily, an SOS driver did collect me at the Kotoka Airport in Ghana. He was about an hour late and I was getting very nervous (why hadn’t I booked a hotel room just in case?), but as soon as we found one another he threw my luggage in the SOS truck and off we drove to Tema. I began my 10-month teaching term the next day.
I now live in a two-story house just beyond the wall of our student boarding facility. I am within shouting distance of the boys’ huts and from my bedroom window I hear the senior prefect ring a 5:30am wake-up bell every morning. Whoever that young man may be, I can honestly say he is persistent and his bell is loud. I have no need for an alarm clock in my house. I also hear a fair bit of Jay-Z’s remix of the song “Forever Young”. In fact, I have heard it so many times I am now on the verge of believing that I will never age.
SOS International College is a secondary school that attracts actual young people from all across the African continent. Every student must pass an exam and an interview before being accepted into the program. About half of the students come to Ghana from SOS villages from as far away as Ethiopia, Uganda, and Swaziland. They are brave young people who leave their SOS families, their school friends, and their home countries to attend this institution.
I am in awe of their determination and their ambition. Most of my SOS students endure loneliness and a fair bit of culture shock when they come to Ghana, but they choose to focus on their long-term goals of getting into prestigious universities in America and Europe. The other half of the student population attracts people from the host country. Like the SOS kids, they have also passed the rigorous exam and interview process. To be accepted into SOS International College is to also accept a demanding course of study amidst a competitive, but supportive environment. Most of the students are fascinated by the sciences and many hope to become doctors, physicists, and engineers. It is an inspiring place to be.