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Showering motherly love

Showering motherly love
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My long and stressed travel to reach Vattinagulapally, on the harsh sunny morning, was brought to relief the moment I stepped into a sprawling...

My long and stressed travel to reach Vattinagulapally, on the harsh sunny morning, was brought to relief the moment I stepped into a sprawling four-acre land with cool breeze hitting me. When I walked into it, the entire land was occupied by long growing trees, low plants and pastures along the masonry pavement that leads to 12 similar looking houses, which are adjacent to each other.

The ambience prevailing there excites any individual who is bored of busy city life and feels like sleeping in nature’s lap. However, it is not a resort or any commercial entity, which offers space for parties or family gatherings for a weekend getaway. Interestingly, it is a tiny hamlet called ‘Save Our Soul Children’s Village’ that supports abandoned children. We are aware of many orphanages that give shelter to the displaced children, however, at SOS Village children are provided with a home and a mother to look after them.

Let’s take a dive into it, Hermann Gmeiner is the father of this concept of accommodating 10 children in a house and employing a mother to take care of them. It was first implemented in Austria in 1943 and later it was expanded to India in 1994 with SOS Villages in Hyderabad, Lathur, Tirupathi, Pondicherry, Raipur, Nagapatnam amongst others.

SOS Villages are functional in 130 countries. “We provide family-based care and create a homely environment for the child. The family comprises of girls and boys behaving like siblings under the care, guidance and protection of a mother. At the age of 13, boys are shifted to the youth home. However, the mother is in touch with these boys and they do visit the SOS Village in holidays, etc. Overall around 210 children in Hyderabad, Telangana, belong to this village.

There are school, college students and working employees. Our rulebook informs children to be employed within three months after pursuing higher education and live on their own. However, the girl stays here with her mother until she gets married,” Ravindra Kumar Kona, Village Director, shared.

The village is totally different from a conventional orphanage; here children do not stand in long queues to get their meals or share a bed with other inmates or anything that is usually seen in orphanages. The choice of food remains with children and it is the mother who cooks for them, which we commonly see in normal homes. The objective is to ensure that the child has a family.

The well-organised administration working for the social cause is in collaboration with a few English medium schools and professional colleges to ensure that the child receives a proper education, which makes him/her ready for the professional world.

It is mandatory for every child to attempt ‘Multiple Intelligence, Multiple Nature’(MIMN) test before they find entry into professional courses. The MIMN test is conducted to identify the interest and ability of the child who is ready to pursue certain professional subject amongst many other fields.

On the other hand, mothers are doing a tremendous job in bringing up their children. Only spinsters, widows and divorced women are eligible to be mothers of these kids. They have to go through an interview and once selected mothers are given two-year training in Delhi, after that they should work under a senior mother before taking charge of the house and her 10 children.

“The selection of mothers lay on the critical judgment of officials and it is the uphill task. We analyse their background and make sure that she doesn’t quit in midway,” Ravindra shares. Bhanumathi, who as a mother extending her love to children in SOS Village, said, “I have joined SOS Village in 1999 after my husband’s death. I feel lucky to be here and since my joining, I have become a mother to almost 20 children. I have 10 here and the other 10 are in the city pursuing higher education and also working in high profiled jobs.”

Speaking about her attachment with children she said, “I’ve dealt with 10 days old baby too and have put all my efforts as a mother to bring in a change in the living style of most of the children who don’t know anything. Recently, I became a grandma too,” she beamed.

N Muni Lakshmi, a spinster, who hails from Chittoor district joined SOS in 2002, after completing her graduation. “From the beginning, I didn’t want to get married and was interested to extend my support to abandoned children. When I read about SOS Village in a newspaper, I went to Bhimili, Vishakapatnam, to get a visual picture of the concept. I was surprised to see children calling ‘Amma’, and complaining her about each other as we generally see in a family of siblings.

The mother cuddled them and resolved the issue between the kids and took them inside to feed them.” At that moment Lakshmi felt that her destiny was in front of which gave her a chance to live her dream and passion to serve deserted kids. However, the call letter came after three months of the interview, which brought a smile on her face after a long wait.

Maheshwari, a mother at the SOS Village said, “I worked as a school teacher and home tutor as well. After being divorced, I was leading a lonely life and love towards kids brought me here. I immediately applied for a role of mother at SOS after knowing about them through a newspaper advertisement.

I was qualified for the interview and the motherly instinct took the driving seat the moment when a one-year-old baby crawled towards me.” Maheshwari stayed in Jammu and Kashmir for five months and in Delhi too in the year 2000. She is the mother of 16 children (four boys and 12 girls).

“We always think of our children when we are away from our home in SOS Village. We are worried about them and feel like coming back as soon as possible when we occasionally go to our hometown to meet relatives,” the mothers said in a unison.

Balakrishna,from SOS, is currently pursuing BSc from Vasan Institute of Optometry, Bengaluru. “I have been here from since I was six years old. My father was an alcoholic and after the death of my mother, I joined here. U Jyothi became my mother in SOS and treats me as her own son. I share all my personal issues with her and she guides me to choose the right way.”

“I miss my mom and her tasty food when I am in Bengaluru,” he shared. Shiva, a trainee in BSNL Office said, “While my mother left me, I was with my grandma. After my father's death, my grandmother brought me here when I was 9. Vijaya Lakshmi became my mother, who introduced me as her elder son to her family. It means a lot to me. I will be always indebted to SOS for giving me a mother and a family comprising of brothers and sisters.

I being the elder son have to take a lot of responsibilities and was extremely happy when two sisters (from SOS Village) were married recently. There is always a sense of unity and effective coordination among us. We stay in contact and meet for every festival.”

Reminiscing memories spent with his mother, he said, “I still remember her cuddling me the moment I entered the house. She embraced me the whole day and made me comfortable.”

“I wish to take her along with me once she retires,” he added. However, this interesting concept that became an umbrella for the children and lonely women needs to be encouraged. “Searching for new mothers ahead of the retirement of senior mothers, have become a daunting task,” Ravindra informed.

Maheshwari, a mother at the SOS Village said, “I worked as a school teacher and home tutor as well. After being divorced, I was leading a lonely life and love towards kids brought me here. I immediately applied for a role of mother at SOS after knowing about them through a newspaper advertisement.

I was qualified for the interview and the motherly instinct took the driving seat the moment when a one-year-old baby crawled towards me.” Maheshwari stayed in Jammu and Kashmir for five months and in Delhi too in the year 2000. She is the mother of 16 children (four boys and 12 girls).

“We always think of our children when we are away from our home in SOS Village. We are worried about them and feel like coming back as soon as possible when we occasionally go to our hometown to meet relatives,” the mothers said in a unison.

Balakrishna,from SOS, is currently pursuing BSc from Vasan Institute of Optometry, Bengaluru. “I have been here from since I was six years old. My father was an alcoholic and after the death of my mother, I joined here. U Jyothi became my mother in SOS and treats me as her own son. I share all my personal issues with her and she guides me to choose the right way.”

“I miss my mom and her tasty food when I am in Bengaluru,” he shared. Shiva, a trainee in BSNL Office said, “While my mother left me, I was with my grandma. After my father's death, my grandmother brought me here when I was 9. Vijaya Lakshmi became my mother, who introduced me as her elder son to her family. It means a lot to me.

I will be always indebted to SOS for giving me a mother and a family comprising of brothers and sisters. I being the elder son have to take a lot of responsibilities and was extremely happy when two sisters (from SOS Village) were married recently. There is always a sense of unity and effective coordination among us. We stay in contact and meet for every festival.”

Reminiscing memories spent with his mother, he said, “I still remember her cuddling me the moment I entered the house. She embraced me the whole day and made me comfortable.” “I wish to take her along with me once she retires,” he added.

However, this interesting concept that became an umbrella for the children and lonely women needs to be encouraged. “Searching for new mothers ahead of the retirement of senior mothers, has become a daunting task,” Ravindra informed.

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