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Saving children

“WHAT I have in mind is something quite different. In this village I would like to regain every orphaned, forsaken child the natural world of the family…Nine children are to live together in a family house, three together in three bedrooms. In such a house a woman is to be a mother to these nine children. Not a social worker or a teacher …In this house she’ll cook for the children in her own kitchen, look after the household like every housewife and mother in every normal family. The children are to call her mother. They are to feel protected by her. It must be a real home for the nine children, a family in which even the psychologically ill child can develop freely.”

This is the philosophy of Herman Gmeiner, Austrian founder of SOS Children’s Villages (in 135 countries), that sets it apart from other shelters for children. Fifty years old in the Philippines, its mission is simply to save children by giving them a home with a mother in it.

There are two other orphanages in Alabang, Elsie Gaches and Don Bosco, but Children’s Village operates on the unique perspective of a manageable number of kids living under one roof with a motherly adult looking after them in every sense of the word – loving, feeding, sheltering, helping with the homework and housework, playing, living a healthy happy life.

Each village is composed of eight to 12 homes, each mother a single lady who is employed (salary, P18,000) to protect the kids 24/7. The mothers retire at age 60, upon which they are free to live in a retirement home.

Like real mothers, they brim with joy when their wards visit them after they have left the Village, usually when they turn 18, get married, or have found a job. Philippine Villages – eight of them – are funded by foreign donors to the tune of P200 million a year. Of late, with so many global crises happening by the hour, foreign aid has been dwindling.

“We appeal to our people, specially corporations with a CSR, for help. Time for us to save, support our own,” said Gemma Goliat, national director. (Jullie Y. Daza)