Coming home for marriage

Hochzeit im Kinderdorf

Alfred and his wife Erjona celebrated their wedding in the SOS Chldren’s Village Tirana

This month I got inspired by a former SOS youth who amazed everyoneFlutura_MiniPic_engl by providing living proof of what “Home sweet Home” truly means. 26 year old Alfred Muharemi shares his story with us.

“I, as a former SOS youth, decided to celebrate my marriage in SOS Children’s Village Albania, because I felt I had to come back Home – to the place where I grew up.

In the maternity ward, soon after I was born, my mother –  for emigration reasons, decided to abandon me. It has been so long now and I still have no information about my biological family.

In SOS Children’s Village Albania I got all the support I needed to become the person I am today. I completed high school as well as my postgraduate studies in Banking Management with excellent grades. 2 years ago I started working as a Credit Analyst at “Credins Bank”. Having learnt a lot from my experiences living in the SOS Children’s village, I voluntarily lead the philanthropic programs of a non-profit Organization in Albania to help orphaned children and young people.

Kinderdorffamilie

Alfred and Erjona together with Alfred’s SOS mother and siblings

I wanted to crown the great love I have for my bride, Erjona, with my SOS family on the 23rd of June since Hermann Gmeiner, the founder of the SOS Children’s Villages, was born on 23 June 1919. I chose this date in honor and remembrance of the day of his birth.

 For the ceremony in the village, people that have touched my life directly and indirectly were invited. That day will remain the happiest day of my life – A day that shows just how proud and thankful I am to God that I am part of the great SOS family.

To Hermann Gmeiner: You will always be in our hearts and will never be forgotten.

Foster families instead of orphanages

A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with my colleague Victor Anton_MiniPic_englwho mentioned that the number of children living in orphanages has decreased by half in the Murmansk region over the past few years. Wow! How happy I was to hear that – especially since SOS played an important role in this.

FAMILY FOR EVERY CHILD

In this post I would like to tell you about some big changes that have been made to the child welfare system in Russia which have led to some great results.

In 2013 the approach to caring for orphaned children in Russia was significantly revised with the adoption of a new state policy on children. Among the many important things stipulated in the policy was the placing of priority on family-based care over institutional care. That meant that children without parental care were to be placed with other families rather than in orphanages. The phrase ‘a child should be cared for in a family setting’ has become the official state position. Continue reading

Indignation is not an answer

Erinnerung an AlexanderAlexander

His suffering ended eight months after he was born. That is when he died.

The sad story of Alexander did not begin on the day of his death. He came from a dysfunctional family – had addicted parents, lived in poverty, suffered abandonment, had no love in his short life. He was all alone in life. But everyone knew about him when he died.

This caseAutorenbild_Libertad of a baby that was taken to a state home and later died under strange circumstances was at the center of attention of local media for a whole year. Several investigations were carried out which brought to light the fact that Alexander had been abandoned. Three years have gone by since the heartbreaking day he was buried. To this day, the exact circumstances leading to his death remain unknown. Continue reading

Beauty in Nature, Happiness in Beauty and Health in Happiness

It is one of the hottest months of the year in India.  Temperatures have risen Tsering_MiniPic2-englbeyond 40 degrees Celsius.  Many people place out food on their verandas or on the roadside for stray dogs and pigeons. We also place food and water on our terrace for the birds to have something to eat and drink so they won’t die of thirst or hunger.   Everybody is talking about the hot weather.  I feel very sad when my plants are dying because of the heat.

Pfau in Indien

Every morning my husband feeds the birds on our terrace. This morning  peacock came.

Then I receive an email from my colleague, Simone, regarding my next blogpost.  Her email says: In Germany, summer is coming. It is green everywhere and there are lots flowers.   For a moment my memory goes back to the time we spent together in Holland. I am taken back to the lots of greenery and to the wide variety of flowers we saw – especially on our visit to Keukenhof.  Simply thinking of such views carries a soothing smile from my soul to my face.

I had to write my article for the blog and was thinking to myself: on what topic will it be?  Simone’s mail and my memories inspired me to write this article through which I could share some beautiful moments in my life where nature had a strong impact on my mood and on my life. Continue reading

What we do to help parents deal respectfully with their children

It is every parent’s wish to raise a child well with respect and to give the child a MiniPic_Helenabright future. Back in the day, parents believed that when raising a child, you needed to beat them up in order to get them to be obedient and respectful. Oh YES! It was like that for me too. We always used to get beaten up when we had done something wrong. What I believe to have been and to still be one of the contributing factors for this is that our parents did not have information about good parenting and were not educated. Many parents today lose their children because the children get tired of being beaten up and run away from the family home. Such circumstances destroy the future of the child.

In parenting workshops the mothers and fathers learn how they can best raise their children.

In parenting workshops the participants learn how they can best raise their children.

Nowadays, children are protected and can be raised in a good way because parents are now being given parenting / child safeguarding workshops that educate them on how they can best raise their children without hurting them. This kind of information also aims to break cultural beliefs of thinking that beating is a way of teaching a child. The safety of children is SOS’s priority. Therefore, SOS gives the necessary information to parents so that they understand that child abuse is not accepted and that it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure children are not abused. The FSP caregivers are learning a lot on parenting, journey of life, and child safe-guarding issues. Children are also being given lessons on children’s rights. Participating in these lessons helps them to know where to report if they find themselves in abusive situations and they also learn to be responsible young people. This, we believe, will make a positive contribution towards their future. Continue reading

My Role Models

For me SOS is a voluminous novel containing so many chapters, characters Flutura_MiniPic_england human history of the most diverse of natures. SOS is also a skyscraper. As a child you have to go through so many stairs and floors, until you reach the top.

That is the moment when you choose to be grateful for the life you lived and experienced. That’s where I stand now!

You may all know what SOS is, but what you probably don’t know is that you can find treasures over there – The kind of treasures that express all their potential by constructing our personalities. Day in and day out, year after year, they carried that invincible spirit.

Youth

My friends, the Youth Leaders and me – a team!

When you have gone out and lived your independent life away from SOS, you’ll look back and there they’ll be.

It has always been them! I am so proud of who I am becoming thanks to their contributions to my life. I would have loved to mention all the staff members of SOS Children’s Village Albania, but right now the dearest to my heart are the Youth Leaders of “Youth Facility nr. 1” program in Tirana, Albania.

“Nik thank you for being a hero. I used to call you “My second Dad” but I am not going to use that phrase anymore. Because actually, you have always been the number one!

Nic

I used to call Nic my second dad, but actually he always has been number one.

My Lumi, as years go by, in my eyes you’re still the most attractive Dame, with a brilliant noble heart!

Jonush, I still crave the lessons of love, beauty, life and everything we both shared within a Hug!

Aida, thank you for the unconditional care. Your simplicity still remains my favorite!

Oh and Majli, unfortunately you have moved to another SOS Program but you are deeply missed. I love you for the long sincere conversations we had! “

So, I have presented you with my Role Models in life – they all should be honored with gold medals.

Don’t Support child labor, Feed the future

Passengers traveling through the departure and arrival terminals of the largestRodrigo_MiniPic and busiest airport in Brazil (more than 120 000 people per day) – the International of São Paulo (GRU) in Guarulhos –  are often approached by children asking for money. Due to the large number of people, nationalities and currencies passing through the airport, alms have become a lucrative source of income for adults who take advantage of children in these places.

In order to combat this practice and prevent more children from being exploited, Aldeias Infantis SOS Brasil has initiated a joint campaign with the company that manages the airport, GruAirport, with the theme “Don’t support panhandling and child labor. Feed the future”.

The first step is to educate airport users about the consequences of giving money to these children. In the meantime, the children will be placed in social assistance and education programs located in the airport, which are supported and funded by the prefecture of Guarulhos. It is estimated that in this first phase, 40 children will benefit from these measures.
In addition, the campaign will also ask for donations from passengers. The resources will fund actions that strengthen families in the communities surrounding the airport, working directly with the families of these children. With this work we remove the need for begging, as these families will no longer need to solely depend on donations from passengers.

The act of giving alms or even buying products from these children does not contribute to the improvement of their quality of life. Such actions  in fact contribute to school drop-outs, encourage child labor and in the process end up jeopardizing the future of these children.
The campaign began in April 2017 with the care of 39 children. It is expected that by the end of July it will be possible to begin the work of strengthening the families in the communities around the airport.

Fairness for Women

The term “unpaid care work” is now trending in most documentationFranklin-Autor_MiniPic-engl of development partners and institutions that promote gender equality and women empowerment. However it is not trending for a good reason but as one of the biggest challenges to women’s rights, economic empowerment and realization of poverty reduction.

But what is Unpaid Care work? It refers, simply, to the work of caring for others, including care for family members and friends, as well as care for children which is not paid at all. By deploying the term “care work,” scholars and advocates emphasize the importance of recognizing that care is not simply a natural and uncomplicated response to those in need, but actually hard physical, mental, and emotional work, which is often unequally distributed through society (Meyer 2000).

Mutter

In all societies women take care about their children. Often they don’t gain recognition for it.

Although one may not easily understand how unpaid care work is a burden for women, various studies have noted that it is one of the major barriers to women’s rights, economic empowerment and poverty reduction. The CSW meeting in New York this year discussed the issue of unpaid work and how MDGs gave a narrow focus to the gender equality goal and achieving parity in education, ignoring the myriad other economic, social and political barriers to women’s real equality. However some scholars have also noted that it is not unpaid care per se that threatens human rights  – being a foundational, unavoidable and very human activity that underpins all societies and cultures – but rather the way it is distributed, and the lack of recognition and support it receives. Continue reading

Being a good father

A few months ago, in April, I attended a conference in Kampala, Uganda, Franklin-Autor_MiniPic-englunder the theme “Positive Discipline in childhood and adolescence (behaviour modelling & positive parenting of children living with disabilities, & those in special contexts in Africa).” Despite the title of the theme being on positive parenting, the conference was generally on parenting practices and challenges, and the good practices “experts” in childcare can take on.

father and son

Spending quality time with the children is very important.

Coming from SOS Children’s Rwanda, I thought that I was well used to the concept of parenting and that it was an issue that others had but not me. However in the presentations (they were quite many from 13 countries in Africa), I started to realise that the concept of parenting was not having enough resources to cater for children’s needs only (clothing and food) but was much more than that. As presentations went on and on I started noting holes in my self-portrayed image as an expert on family and parenting. Having held a position with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, I realised that many of the issues being discussed were challenging me to self-evaluate myself as a parent and a husband and how the experiences were helping me to do things differently.

Among the many things I learned, I realised that the issue of spending some quality time with my kids was more important than I had always thought. I also realised that the degree of interaction with my kids and my family needed to be upped. I had an arrangement with myself of making up for time not spent with my kids by getting them fun stuff like toys and candies. However one of the presenters indicated that we risk being substituted by the gadgets and gifts we give kids to make up for the time we don’t spend with them. The gifts may end up being more meaningful to the kids than the parents who give them to the kids.

Mutter Ruanda

An SOS family in Kigali, Rwanda

I also had a presentation to make about a positive practice from my community but this reflection caused me to also think about how far I have practiced it. I came to the conclusion that there may be many people like me who work with many policies, strategies, best practices on family and parenting on a regular basis and who merely think there are experts in parenting and dealing with families and yet may not like what they see if they reflect on how it contributes to their roles as parents.

As employees of SOS Children’s Villages, an organisation that deals with issues of children and families, we must not be carried away by the work we do but also reflect on how it influences/impacts our families and relationship with our families and communities. We spend time encouraging families we work with to support the process of de-institutionalisation and take children into their families, but I guess we also need to reflect on these issues at our different personal levels and within the community. Having stirred the questions in our minds, let us reflect on how we relate to our children given the exposure and experience we have on various parenting concepts.  As once said by someone, Life offers us thousands of opportunities for learning. Let us learn to make meaningful outcomes for children given the experience we get from our work!

 

Beauty

Everyone loves beauty but which beauty do you love more: physical Tsering-Indiabeauty, or beauty of the soul?

hermann

Hermann Gmeiner – a man with a beautiful soul

Some time back I was with a few lady friends and within our discussion a topic on ‘beauty products available in the market’ came up.  Being ladies – and most of the ladies in the group were late 20s and early 30s – the topic became even more interesting, and discussion on the topic went on for a while, especially on brand and price.  The good /branded products are very expensive and at the same time still carry a risk of side effects in some cases. But still most of us take the risk and end up spending lots of money and energy on them.

I was thinking about a few people whom I know so well and how beautiful they are. Continue reading