When I think about what ’home’ means to me, I think about David.
Upon arriving at one of our SOS Children’s Villages in Nicaragua, I saw 15-year-old David sitting nervously at a table by himself. This was an unusual sight for me. On each of my trips to our villages, I had been greeted with big hugs, laughter and a myriad of questions from the children and youth in our care. And I always saw confirmation that our efforts to provide safe and loving homes were successful. With David, I could see he was still adjusting to his new surroundings – that he didn’t yet feel at home or secure.
That afternoon I learned that David is a survivor of human trafficking. He had been trafficked from Haiti and rescued by Nicaraguan authorities a few weeks earlier. His only language was French, so he communicated through a translator to our Spanish-speaking SOS mothers, aunts and staff. The staff was working desperately to locate his family in Haiti, but sadly, without success.
A recent report from the United Nations shows an increase in trafficking cases in the past few years, and notes that currently one in three trafficking victims is a child. Poverty, violence, abandonment and disease each leave children vulnerable to trafficking and other types of exploitation. This is one of the many reasons our work to create safe and loving SOS homes is so crucial.
What can be done to better support the world’s children? We know through experience that providing them with basic necessities like food, water and shelter greatly reduces their odds of being victimized. We also know how vital it is to reunite children with their families if they have been trafficked or if they were displaced during a crisis.
At SOS Children’s Villages, our first priority is to keep families together and we work hard to reunite children with their relatives. And if there are no signs of a family? We provide a new family. We know that raising children in a nurturing, family environment is necessary if they are to live a happy and healthy life. Our homes in our SOS Villages ensure that each child receives the love, care and support needed to thrive and succeed.
In our Villages in León and Managua, I saw how each child was given individual attention, loving care, and gentle support from their SOS Mothers – women who dedicate all their energies to raising vulnerable children. I witnessed each child’s happiness in their SOS home, surrounded by the love of their SOS siblings.
Through generous support from partners like Johnson & Johnson and from individual donors, we’re able to provide children like David with these loving homes where all their needs are met with a family that shows them unconditional support.
I am very hopeful for David. I know that while there’s a significant adjustment to join his SOS family it means he is now free from abuse and maltreatment. He’s receiving the love and care every child deserves, and the therapy and counseling needed to help overcome his trauma.
He has a place he can begin to call home.
You can make sure vulnerable children feel safe, loved and cared for this holiday season and throughout the coming year. Become an SOS Children’s Villages child sponsor and give a child in need a home for the holidays. Sponsor today.