Two boys running with a tyre, wit an SOS village in the background
Behind the Scenes at SOS Children's Village Nelspruit :
The scene: A freshly painted home in the new village of the "SOS South African" stable; SOS Children's Village Nelspruit is built as an integrated part of the community of Kamagugu. An interview takes place with SOS mom, Vicky, as some of her SOS children wash their lunch dishes in the kitchen while singing an African song.
The story: Vicky was working as an assistant nanny to a disabled child in White River when she saw the newspaper advertisement for an SOS mother for SOS Children's Village Nelspruit. As the mother of a grown up 23-year-old son she decided to apply because she really likes to work with children. Vicky had also previously worked as a volunteer in a crèche and at a home for sick children. Now at 43 years of age she is mom to six children at the SOS Children's Village Nelspruit. Vicky says she likes to talk to children because they put her in a good mood. "I like everything about being an SOS mother, even the cleaning and cooking."
Vicky describes a day in her life and the children's as follows: 04h45: I wake up and make breakfast. I then wake the children, wash and dress them for school. I make sure they have clean clothes on, polished shoes and have brushed their teeth. I then help them to tidy up their rooms and give them breakfast. 06h45: The children go to school in Tekwane (about 3 kilometres from the village) in a school taxi. Vicky then tidies the house properly and if necessary, goes to town to do the grocery shopping. 14h45: The children come back from school. They eat fruit. Vicky helps them wash their shirts and then the children go to play and Vicky begins to prepare and cook supper. 16h30: Vicky helps the children with their homework. 17h30: She teaches the children how to clean properly. 19h00: Supper of cooked pap mixed with vegetables or sugar beans and pap. The children's favourite dish is the Sunday meal which is chicken, rice, vegetables, and jelly and custard. After supper the children like to draw at the table, watch an animal or sports programme and then they go to bed at 20h00. On special Saturdays Vicky involves the children in shopping and they choose their own clothes. She visits friends in the community and can often be found playing soccer with the children on the community soccer field.
Each of the six children under Vicky's care has special qualities which she is happy to share: Anele: likes soccer and he's very clean. He likes to dress smart and he's brilliant at school. Jannet: is ever smiling and brilliant at school. She is not shy but very sociable. She likes to play netball and dance. She treats all the children the same and teaches her younger brother how to respect his other siblings. Shawn: He is a shy boy who likes to garden and spend time fixing things. He fixed my toilet and kitchen tap. When Shawn first came to the village he was very angry and hit the other children but now he is calm. Andrew: He is very clever and likes to socialise. He enjoys good food, especially meat. Thabela: She is very shy but helpful and especially likes to help with the cooking. Hugh: is quiet but he is new to the village and I'm still working with him. It's a bit of a struggle. You need to start afresh to teach them about hygiene, cleaning, how to talk with people (for example, no swearing), manners, respect, and how to pack and fold their clothes.
Vicky has friends in the community who often come to visit her. They chat about their children, childhood sicknesses and various other day to day activities. "I think they (the community) didn't know what it (the village) is," says Vicky. "The children play with our children. On Saturday there was a birthday party in the community and our younger children were collected by neighbours to attend." The village staff is also involved in community meetings where things such as the rising crime rate are discussed. Vicky, however, insists that "this place is good." She says she feels safe, is not scared and doesn't have a problem to live alone with six young children.
When asked how she feels about the Nelspruit village she says: "This village is good because it is integrated and the children are very independent. The children have to think for themselves and obey the rules, for example, at 18h00 it's home-time because supper will be on the table. In Nelspruit we can go by public transport and mix with the community people. It's nice here - if something is broken you think about getting a plumber or someone else. You can't distinguish an 'SOS house' from one in the community - it's very good."
The final curtain: "I am looking forward to getting more children but I think the way the house is built eight children is enough," says an enthused Vicky. "You can't see this position as a job because then you can't work with the children. I think you have to be called for this work - it's not a job!"