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.


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!


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).


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!



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


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

Doing more than enough


Guest author Hardlife Chitima, 18, grew up in an SOS Children’s Village in Zimbabwe. He just wrote his exams at the Hermann Gmeiner International College in Ghana.

“Every big thing in the world only comes true when somebody does more than he has to do.”

This is a quotation by Hermann Gmeiner, the founder and the foundation of the SOS-Kinderdorf organization. He is the one who said it and, ultimately, did it. He did more than he had to, far more than he had to, for the right reasons and largely for people he did not even know. Hermann Gmeiner is a hero to the millions of kids around the world, known and unknown, and he is the benefactor to this large organization that seeks to build bridges in the lives of children who have no one to do it for them.

The SOS organization is a manifestation. It has so many branches around the world which are functioning independently while maintaining the connection with the parent body and the use of its values. It has worked so hard to create and provide a home for the orphaned, under-privileged and the abandoned child. When you look at its achievements like this, only then can you appreciate the reality and the extent of the work going on in the organisation. Continue reading

Cows, the lovely animals that Rwandans cherish!

A cow is just a cow until you come to Rwanda. Rwandans love cows!Franklin-Autor_MiniPic-engl You may think they love them for the milk or meat but no! Cows mean a lot to Rwandans. The Rwandan cows are characterized by long horns and a dignified appearance but their historical and cultural importance is even more impressive. Cows used to mean a symbol of wealth and a family that owned many herds would be respected in society. Because of the position the cows had in society, whoever owned them had to make sure they were bred in the best way possible. Owners of the best breeds would have their cows paraded before the king and they would be rewarded for their work – in most cases they would be rewarded by giving them more cows! Herds of cows would be traded in exchange for a bride and a cow was the most respected gift given to a friend. It was the symbol of friendship between families.

traditionelle Kühe

The traditional Rwandan cows

Currently a cow is still very important in the lives of Rwandans. Many people still give others gifts as cows to express their friendship. Cows are exchanged for brides but this is now done as a symbol rather than as a true worth of the bride, as was the norm back then. Today few cows are exchanged because there is no longer enough land to graze them on.

To understand the importance of cows in the lives of Rwandans you need to know that some families were saved during the Genocide because they had given cows to some friends and they hid them and protected them. Therefore it is a friendship that you start with a person when you give him/her a cow and this friendship over time develops into a relationship that members of the families enjoy for a very long time. Continue reading