A peak into the life of an SOS mother.
The first SOS family in the new Valmiera SOS Children’s Village consisted of six biological brothers and sisters who in 2007 began living together with their SOS Mother. Currently this village consists of twelve families living with 62 children and youth from all over Latvia. Valmiera SOS village is the second of two such villages in Latvia, formed to care for children who have lost their biological parents. The original SOS village has now been open eighteen years, located in Īslīcē, Bauska. In both villages SOS moms or parents nurture the children’s growth and development, working to help them feel safe and forget any negative experiences before becoming united their SOS family.
Recently we visited the “Fantasy” house in the Valmiera village where SOS mother Inga Kurme lives with her five foster children. Inga became an SOS mother almost three years ago. Before that she worked for Ventspils and Riga social services and raised her three daughters, which now study in Riga.
Inga, how did you decide to become an SOS mother?
“I was in the process of moving and looking for new job opportunities and I noticed an ad in the State Employment Agency website. Since I always enjoyed working with children and myself have raised three daughters, I applied. I passed the selection process, was fully trained and then practiced at the Islices SOS Village and almost three years ago began living at the Valmiera village. Not long after I met my first foster children.”
Was living and working in the Village what you expected?
“When I started there I had no illusions of what situations I might come across. I had previously done municipality work in Ventspils with social risk families and had been present in some challenging situations where difficult decisions had to be made about removing a child from their family. In Riga I also continued to work with orphaned children (separated for social reasons from living parents) who now have reached adulthood. I offered them support, helping them to stand on their own two feet and find their place in the world after leaving the orphanage. Of course, I had no idea what kind of kids I would meet in the village, but I knew I would be working with children that have been hurt.”
Tell me about the children you now have living in your family.
“Happily living together in our family are children from three biological families. Together we are six, three boys, two girls and myself.
Indra is my eldest daughter at fourteen, Alex, the great athlete is ten, his sister Lily will soon be seven and is about to start school in the fall, Valdis is five, and the youngest Signe, would joined us last summer, is only two years old. I also can’t forget about another family member that has lived with us for three years, our cat Vilson.”
What is your life’s greatest pleasure?
“I live my life based on the principle that every night one should write down five things that they are grateful for, this gives me a lot of daily joy. I am also so happy to see my children grow, watching them progress in big and small ways.
When I met them they were tattered like fallen baby birds, they spoke little and were much sharper. Now they all have become very open and talkative. I am so appreciative of the love that has grown between us all. At Christmas my eldest son wished that ‘he and his family have a good life’. This wish really moved me and made it clear how important my relationship with these children really is.”
From where do you get your strength?
“My sources of strength are both my everyday feelings and joys, and visiting my daughters. They also quite often visit Valmiera. Although my days are often really busy, I always try to save to some time for myself, to read or draw. I find this important because children often require a lot of energy but I have to also take care of myself in order to have enough strength to raise them right.”
How do you care for the children’s health?
“I try to do everything I can to strengthen the children’s immune system year round, but especially during the summer and fall when more local fruits and vegetables are available. The children spend a lot of time outside, either going on walks with me, playing on the playground or riding their bikes. I think it is important for their health to be involved in sports and seek to involve them. I have to pay special attention to one of my daughters who has diabetes. Since we found out about her disease it has been a long and difficult road, learning to help her live with her disease and not lose any quality of life. But these days it is already easier, thanks to a gracious donor she now has an insulin pump and no longer has to bravely endure eight injections per day.”
What is your life motto?
“You have to be grateful for what you are given, only then will you be able to achieve something in life”
P.S. Right now SOS Children’s Village in Valmiera is looking for reinforcements- SOS mothers or SOS parents. If you want to know more about this noble line of work look at the SOS Children’s Village Association website www.sosbernuciemati.lv
You can also support SOS families growing number of children by applying to be a regular donor at the website www.sosciemati.lv