After a few dry pieces of toast and a greasy omellete we take a autorickshaw to visit the SOS village of Varanasi.
We have been looking forward to another visit because it has been a while since our last visit and they all have been a wonderful experience. We welcomed with open arms by one of the volunteers of the village. We explain her a bit more about the purpose of the journey as we had only spoken to her briefly over the phone. Then we ask her if we can see the village, meet some of the mothers and see the facilities.
On the way to an elementary school she explains us all about SOS in India. India has at this moment 34 villages. An enormous amount of 15000! Children use the SOS facilities in India in the form of education, food aid and medicalfacilities. Earthquakes and other natural disaster but also domestic violence and re-marriage are the main reason children are left behind on the street and end-up in SOS villages.
When we arrive at the elementary school the children are delighted to see two blond westerners. They all start singing and some come running up to us and clamp on our legs!
At this moment we melt! Then we meet Banoushi. She is the only child in the village that was left behind in front of the gate. SOS searched for the parents for a long time but could not locate them. Then they decided to place her in one of the families. Banoushi appeared to have an earproblem and could not hear proparly.With the help of SOS she received medical care and underwent a few operations. Now she can partly hear again and with the aid of a hearinmg devise. There is a good chance that within time she can regqain full hearing! Banushi looks very happy and at home.She lives here for three years now!
Then we visit Mother Santha. She work in the village for already 21 years now and has raised up to 25 children. She invites us in her house and while enjoying a cup of tea we ask her about her work. She tells us that all the children are in her heart and that she loves every single one of them. Some of them have become artists and docters she sais. Then she is silent for a while and suddenly a tear rolls down her face as she starts crying. We wonder if we have done anything wrong and look at her. Then she explains that she is 56 and that 58 is the retiring age for mothers in the village. But all she wants to do is raise some more children. She believes its her mission and she wants to continue with it…. At this point we all feel sorry and we ask her what happens with the children.
SOS makes sure that the children are 16 when the mother retires. At this age the children move out of the house anyway to a youth house. Ofcourse she will stay the mother of all the children she raised but now they will live on their own.
We receive a big hug from Santha and walk towards the SOS-school next to the village. In the village live around 200 children but around 1200 children from the neighbouring villages use the schools facilities. These are all children from parents who have such a low income that they cannot afford education. The philosophyu behind this is to give the children proper education to give them a chance in live and also to give them a supporting function at home as they will bring the knowledge home. In one of the classes one of the children asks if she can sing for us. Before we know it half the class stands up and sings as best as they can.
The village, the school, the children and the mother have again made an everlasting impression on us. Whether it is Turkey, Pakistan or India (all with other cultures and believes) we know that SOS stands for one thing. Every child, where ever in the world, deserves the right to a home and a mother that looks after them. But what we have also learned is that SOS stands for much more. Education of poor children, rural education projects, help in times of natural disaster and war stiken area’s and food aid. This can only be done with the help of the west. The land for the villages are donated by the government but the rest needs to come from you and me! We know one thing for sure.. your money will be well spent… very well!