Children from SOS Children's Village Ghana playing
First entries from SOS workers Kiara and Oana. Kiara works at SOS International College in Ghana, and Oana works at the SOS Children's Village Bucharest in Romania.
As this is my first entry, I’ll do my best to give you a sense of who I am, how I came to SOS, and what it is I do here in Ghana.
In December of 2009, I requested a leave of absence from my teaching post at the United Nations International School in New York City. Having taught high school English and Drama at UNIS for eight years, I felt it was time for a new challenge. As much as I loved my students in New York (they are funny, multi-lingual, curious, and sophisticated), I knew that I needed to step away from my own habits and into a new environment. I also felt that international education, despite its ability to produce globally minded and knowledgeable people, disproportionately benefited the rich over the poor. I was disheartened by the inequities.
When I first saw the job notice for a teaching position at SOS International College in Tema, Ghana, I had no idea what SOS stood for. After a bit of web-crawling, I learned about SOS and its mission from the official website and various independent blogs. I was amazed at the scale of the program and I was equally excited about the SOS mission. Because SOS International College in Ghana has no website, I was still a bit confused about the actual school. I didn’t have much to go on in terms of details about the curriculum or the facility, but I was so fascinated by and impressed with the practical idealism of the SOS Villages that I decided to take the job and leap into an unknown adventure.
My family was at once excited and nervous about my decision. Some voiced their concerns about my safety, others ran to their computers, researched Ghana and readily shared details about it to me (“They speak nine languages there!” “It’s right on the Equator – you’re gonna cook.” “Did you know Kofi Annan is from Ghana?”). Most were a bit worried about me because I knew so little about my new employer. To be honest, I was a bit concerned as well.
Despite asking a lot of questions, I was still unclear as to my living situation, who my actual students would be, what sort of supplies I would need to bring, and what would be expected of me as a teacher.
All questions remaining, I packed a lot of t-shirts, some warm weather hiking pants, and three bottles of bug spray. I also included about 700 pencils because I had read that many children in Ghana desperately needed school supplies but have few opportunities to acquire them. Then I was off.....
I’ve been working with SOS Children’s Village Bucharest for two years now. Before then, I held a variety of positions from being a waitress to an insurance agent, and even a dispatcher at a security company; where I watched activity with mobile video-cameras from a big commercial centre. All of these previous positions were okay but really pretty boring.
My position with SOS Children’s Village Bucharest actually began by coincidence. A friend of mine was secretary here but needed to quit because of her busy school schedule. One day when I visited her at work, she announced me about the future vacancy. I submitted my resume and, after going through the recruitment process, I was able to access the position so, here I am.”
I was both a student and full-time employee my first year with SOS Children’s Village Bucharest. It proved to be a very trying time, however moments during that first year prepared me for my current role. Currently, I am a full-time assistant manager and part-time pedagogue in the same Village.
As assistant manager, I perform the common secretary duties, while also assisting the village director with his role. I also help organize and participate in various events and many other activities here at SOS Children’s Village Bucharest.
From March of this year, I offered and then became the pedagogue for a program called Independent Life Skills. When the position became available, I felt the need to apply, because of the strong connection between myself and the children. This program is for children between 12-14 years who are preparing to move into the SOS Youth Facilities. We meet twice a week and do all kinds of activities in order for them to develop their independent life skills. Some examples of activities include: cooking, cleaning, and visiting the city, preparing parties, talking about career choices, school, sexuality, proper behaviour and all the things they should know in their adult life. We also go on trips to visit the country and historic places.
I am very proud of my close relationship with the children. I realize all my hard work is worth it when they come to me and confess things like I’m their big sister. I’m also proud I’m part of a system that offers the best alternative for a family life to these children.
I don’t know about other countries but in Romania, SOS Children’s Villages is the best opportunity for a child that didn’t have the chance to be in his natural family. They have the best care, attention and affection, from the social mother and also from the other employees. I think the SOS childcare model is the best and should be followed by anyone who wants to do something good for the children in this situation.