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Unsung Heroines

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Celebrating SOS mothers…

According to Sociology Dictionary, “The family is responsible for shaping a child’s personality, emerging identity, and self-esteem. Children gain their first values and attitudes from the family.”

For 36 years, SOS Children’s Village has been providing a loving home to vulnerable children; working with the government and local community-based organisations to ensure every child belongs to a family and grows up with love, respect and security.

So, in celebration of Mother’s Day, Voice Woman visits the often forgotten phenomenal mothers of the organisation in Tlokweng, who deserve recognition for their invaluable contribution in society.

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These are the unsung heroines who live to fulfill their God-given role of caring for some of society’s most vulnerable demographic – orphaned, neglected and abandoned children.

As many of the mothers expressed, it is the love of children that led them to devoting decades of their lives to giving stability, support, as well as a sense of direction and belonging to these minors.

Caroline Bogope, 57, Lotlhakane East

In all 21 years I have been here, I have cared for over 20 kids. It is a divine calling that God has assigned to me.

Currently, I have four girls under my care who are all teens, the rest of the kids have been reunited with their extended families.

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Initially, I had thought I’d work just a few years then return to my biological children; I have 4 children and 4 grandchildren whom I left at a very young age.

They were disgruntled when I left them because their dad was also working in South Africa, but overtime they accepted that mum had to work.

Because some of the children came into my care as newborns, I grew deeply attached to them.

I had desired to retire early, but there’s a white man who volunteered here as a tutor years ago, when he saw me cradling a toddler lovingly, he pleaded with me not to leave but stay until retirement age.

His words replay in my head often. It is never easy to leave. To be able to serve here, one must have patience and be kind, loving, sympathetic and attentive.

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My children are very appreciative, some of them are overseas and have kept in touch; our bond is strong.

There’s a family of 4 boys from Lorolwane that I found here, 3 of them were brilliant academically, the other not so, however, he is doing very well as a farmer.

He recently invited me to his ranch to appreciate his hard work. The boys still come to me for advice.

I am a ‘wealthy’ mother as my children are thriving. God has answered my prayers.

Lorato Motlhabi, 54, Kanye

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I joined SOS on 1st May, 2006 and tend to 6 children at House #6 ranging from 3 to 18 years.

The youngest arrived as a newborn, 1-and-a-half months old, ke be ke nna motsetsi.

Just like my name, Lorato, I have so much love to give to children, babies especially, and enjoy raising them.

I have 4 biological children who were mostly raised by my mother and they are fine with this arrangement.

The only challenge about what I do is that I have to ensure I instill a sense of family in all my foster children, as they are unrelated (of different ages and background).

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My duty is to ensure they are loyal to each other. So far, I have fostered over 11 children, who are all still in touch with the Village and me.

Monnye Ketlaroma Mosuping, 52, Phitshane Molopo

I’ve been living at SOS for 24 years, after returning home from Fontainebleua, Randburg in South Africa where I worked in a daycare centre.

SOS employs carers who are 35 years and over but, thanks to my impressive resume, I was hired at 28 years.

To date, I have cared for over 50 kids; 3 girls are now married, so ke na le bakgwenyana ba bararo (I’ve 3 sons-in-law). Currently, I’m a full-time mother at House #8 to five children.

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As a foster mother, I raise my children to learn independence and, typically, when they return from school, they watch a bit of TV but at 7pm I switch it off so they can do their homework, then hit the sack.

I attend PTA meetings, prize-giving ceremonies, cook and clean for them. however, during school holidays, I teach them household chores.

These kids depend on me for everything, like a proper parent because they’ve no one else. Even the sickly ones, I take them to the clinic.

In fact, sadly, I lost one a few years back who had a brain tumor. The other needed eye surgery, so I used to accompany both to Netcare Garden City Hospital in South Africa.

I’ve twin girls who are living abroad, one is married in Zimbabwe and they still call me to celebrate milestones.

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You have to be God-fearing, loving, compassionate and forgiving to be able to do this job; this is a form of altruism.

I have 2 children of my own whom I left at a very young age; they consider my foster children their siblings.

Bame Ralentswana, 55, Molepolole

This is my 21st year at SOS; I arrived here at around 34 years. Mine was a serendipitous meeting with a total stranger who told me that SOS Tlokweng was looking for caregivers.

The very next morning, I came here and I believe God chose this assignment for me because everything that we do or have is in accordance with God’s will.

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This is why I have been here all these years, serving with stoicism and love.

I have two children of my own – 36 and 32 years of age. Whenever I visit them, they’ll joke that my other kids need me more.

I’m happy with the extensive training I’ve gotten at SOS, like parenting and early child development.

I’ve been to numerous workshops and training seminars over the years, and have gained indispensable knowledge that I did not have.

Now I have a better appreciation of children’s emotional needs.

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Our roles go beyond just basic parenting; we are also counsellors and ‘nurses’.

In my house, I tend to 4 children: the youngest is 7 years old and is in Standard 2 at Camp Primary School.

Overall, I have raised about 10 children, some of whom have gone on to lead successful lives and do keep in touch.

There’s one in the Delta working in the hospitality sector.

The other, who arrived here at 18 months, is now a 23-year-old man; he works and lives nearby, so he checks on me almost daily because he regards me as his mum.

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We receive children with a myriad of challenges and sometimes it’s not easy raising such kids, especially when they reach adolescence, however, we work closely with social workers, which is a blessing.

Kootsaletse Disaka, 51, Serowe

I got here 13 years ago in 2009, and have fostered 10 children while on probation. I then moved from house to house before settling at House 13.

This was so that I could get to know all the kids, by name. I remember thinking, “That’s a daunting task! How in the world am I going to know all these kids by name?” Some were as young as a couple of months old.

Indeed, in no time I’d gotten to know them; fellow mothers were very supportive.

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I have 4 biological kids; the youngest was at nursery school when I moved here.

Unfortunately their father left four years ago; I guess he moved on as he couldn’t accept my vocation.

I’m proud to report that most of my foster children are doing well and are independent; some are at varsity – UB and Boitekanelo – while others have graduated.

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