Children in Ghana playing football
A new entry from Kiara and Oana in their SOS Villages
As I have now been at the SOS International College for some time, I am beginning to feel a bit more at ease with some of the cultural differences that initially had me a bit perplexed. It still bamboozles me as to how and why various events and meetings start 30, 40, and sometimes a full 60 minutes after they are scheduled to begin. As a tightly wound New Yorker for the past eight years, it’s been quite discomforting to sit alone in a room and wait for everyone else to (eventually) show up. Time moves at a different pace here in Ghana…
Case in point – we had a wonderful gathering on Saturday that brought together all of the students for a celebration of national pride, food and culture. The event was scheduled to begin “strictly” at 1:30pm, but things were still being set-up at 2pm and we didn’t actually eat until nearly 3pm. It was, however, a wonderful afternoon that gave me insight into the background stories of some of my students. The nations that were recognized at the bi-annual festival this semester were Swaziland, Lesotho, Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda and Ethiopia. We listened to students from each country sing, tell stories, and explain the way their people won or retained independence. Two young men from Ethiopia reminded us that their nation has never been colonized despite the fact that they have fought five battles with the Italians. Other places, such as Nigeria and Uganda recounted difficult histories, and the little country of Swaziland let us know that they simply wrote a letter and the next day they were free. The best part of the afternoon was eating freshly made dishes that the students had prepared alongside our regular cafeteria staff and seeing everyone gussied up in their fancy African attire.
We will all come together for the second “National Day” in March. I am looking forward to another great meal and many informative presentations. This time, though, I will saunter in at 2:15.
Today I will talk about our how we form long lasting relationships in our Village and I will say a bit about the city our Village is in.
Working with SOS mothers is all about the strong relationship you have with the mother. I have a good relationship with the mothers because they understand I am here to give them support, advice and help when they need it. They welcome me with warmth and happiness in both my jobs (secretary and teacher) and we have trust in each other because this is the best way to collaborate for the good of the children. We have meetings every week and we visit the family houses at least once in a week so when one of them needs support, we (the psycho-pedagogical team) give it.
We have a strong bond with the children and often stay in contact with children after they have left the Village. It’s important to know if our work paid off. We have to be able to determine if each one of them is a young, independent adult or not and what further support they need. For example, we are offering free kindergarten services for a young daughter of one of the children that grew up in our Village.
We invite them to the celebrations we have in the Village or SOS Youth Facilities. For example, we’ve just recently celebrated 11 years of activity for our Youth Facility 1. It was amazing to see all the adults that were helped by our programs over the years, together with current and previous SOS employees all celebrating our common achievements. One of the present Board Members of our Association grew up in our Village.
Our SOS Children's Village in Bucharest is a Village in a busy, cosmopolitan, large city where everything happens in an amazing fast pace, with the exception of the traffic... It has new, modern buildings that could very well be placed in any European Capital, alongside grey square-shaped blocks of floats dating back to the communist year of Romania.
This city is an important cultural centre of Romania with the oldest University in the country and a large number of private universities. It’s the business heart of Romania hosting the headquarters of most of the important companies present here. Our Village is right at home here and it's a great place for our children and youths to explore the city and develop as people.