Being an SOS mother: challenging, but rewarding

Alice joined SOS Children's Village Bakoteh in 2009 to become an SOS mother. After almost two years spent with her nine children, she admits that the start was not easy but that today she and her children are a happy family.

Alice decided to join SOS Children's Villages The Gambia as an SOS mother after her husband abandoned her. Her three biological children were then old enough and independent and she wanted to change her life and help children in need. Friends and family members did not all understand her decision at first. Some told her it would be hard; others told her it could be boring to be 'just a mother', but Alice was determined to give it a try even though she knew it would not be easy to raise children you had not been raising from their very first day.

Alice with two of her children in the background - Photo: Christian Lesske
Alice with two of her children in the background - Photo: Christian Lesske
Alice came to the SOS Children's Village with a lot of willingness. But reflecting on her first months of work as an SOS mother, she confirms 'it was not easy at first'. Alice had 'inherited' from a family of nine children whose previous SOS mother was too sick and had to leave. Though she had received the basic SOS mothers' training, before moving into the children's village and was well-prepared for her new task, the children initially did not want to trust her and listen to her; they treated her like a stranger. 'I knew it would take me some time to adapt to them, to learn about them, what they like, how they behave, what they eat, etc., but I was about to give up after almost a year', confesses Alice.

Some other SOS mothers came to Alice's rescue. They talked to her and told her they had faced similar issues [transition of SOS mothers]; issues that only time and perseverance could overcome. They also talked to the children to reassure them that Alice was here for good; that she was here to help them and care for them.

Alice also understood the situation faced by the children. She quickly came back together and told herself that - more than ever - they needed her, that they needed security, protection and love. She now knows it was worth insisting!

Her children now show her affection and call her 'mum'. They willingly help her in the daily chores and listen to her. When asked about how she knows the children now care for her as their mother, Alice explains that 'they get worried when I get sick and try to make me feel better'. And for two-year-old Aminata, who joined the family house when she was one, Alice is the only mother she'll ever remember and one can see their bond is already very strong.

Alice is now a happy mother and proud! She will not deny it's hard work, but it's definitely not boring! How could it be when you are surrounded by nine children: nine times more silly things, nine times more laughter, nine times more of cuddles!