It has been a pleasant experience to talk to SOS mother Jayalakshmi, who is originally from Vishakhapatnam in southern India. She willingly took on the responsibility for a family at SOS Children’s Village Greenfields. However, she was very apprehensive at the beginning. Would she be a good SOS mother in the Northern Region in Faridabad, which was culturally different from the South? Would she be able to care for a family with both older and younger children, where an SOS mother had retired after so many years?
SOS mother Jayalakshmi has been with the organization since 17 August 1999. She is a caring SOS mother to 14 lovely children and has already seen four of her older children get married. Today she cares for four adolescents. It is interesting to learn from her how she was finally accepted by Sudha, one of her older children.
SOS mother Jaya told us that Sudha, whose SOS mother had retired and moved away, still hadn’t got over the fact that her SOS mother had left. She had been emotionally attached and had had a very close relationship with her former SOS mother. The presence of a new SOS mother made her angry and she refused to see her new SOS mother as part of the family. Sudha even forbid her brothers and sisters from freely interacting with Jaya. She told Jaya that she would not allow her to stay and continue working as an SOS mother in the family.
But SOS mother Jaya remained patient. Despite the fact that she was rejected from the start, she did not lose hope. Instead, Jaya tried to understand why Sudha was behaving the way she was. Sudha unfortunately fell very ill one summer. SOS mother Jaya cared for her and was sensitive towards her likes and dislikes. Through Jaya’s consistent effort and patience, Sudha finally came around and gradually accepted her as her mother.
The week after Sudha had recovered, it was Mothers’ Day. It was early in the morning and SOS mother Jaya had just finished her daily prayer. What she saw came as a pleasant surprise – all her children surrounded her with flowers and gifts, and Sudha led them. “It was a moment I’ll never forget,” said SOS mother Jaya, her voice choking with emotion.
SOS mother Jaya feels it is the values she learned from her parents that have helped her to be accepted by the children. “The most important quality that I have learnt from my parents is how to be patient and tolerant. My parents would explain the advantages and disadvantages of everything we do,” Jaya says.
“I never told the children off and I allowed them to do what interested them. There have been situations when I felt I would not be able to cope with older children, and I considered leaving, but the shift in my older daughter’s behaviour from being negative to positive has helped me regain my confidence in being an SOS mother.”
“I regularly dance and play with my children. I am very satisfied and my parents are also happy with my family. Every time I go home I take one younger child and one older child with me, and this is how the bond strengthens and we become a closely-knit family.”