Family-based care coordinator at SOS Children's Village Bethlehem in Palestine
© photo: © 2018 Milena Partsuneva
Abdallah has worked for SOS since 1998. He is proud of his team and being the leader. He believes leadership skills are a way to identify team demands, motivate them to work and stimulate their efforts. We can use the experiences of others to develop leadership and ensure continuous learning.
Abdallah sees family as the symbol of emotional, psychological and social stability. He is glad to have been welcomed as a child by SOS with a lot of love, affection, safety and respect. He cares deeply for his family, his mother and eight siblings. He is married with one child, and awaiting another!
In his free time Abdallah loves cooking, especially for family and friends, swimming with his son, reading and watching films. Abdallah sees his home, Bethlehem, as a small town with a big meaning, and one of the most important Palestinian cities with a lot of churches, mosques and monasteries. The city has about 25,000 inhabitants and about 5,000 families. The city is characterised by large numbers of Christians living peacefully and safely alongside Muslims.
From need to lead. Growing up in SOS and working there
I married when I was forty two years old – something very unusual in my country – and after causing suffering to the national director of SOS Children’s Villages Palestine who I greatly respected, a mentor who was like a father and brother to me. He was serious about my marriage. Like a father he wanted to have a grandchild. We were looking for a suitable bride according to our traditions but I always rejected the idea of traditional marriage. I met my wife by accident and now love surrounds me from all directions. The marriage ceremony began according to our traditions and this great father was with me step by step. I will never forget him and his family.
When the SOS vision and mission became clear to me
After a year of marriage we had a child who lit up my life. He does not yet know what is going on around him, but he feels the affection of his parents. This was the moment when I realised the vision and mission of the SOS Children’s Village. I realised how lucky I am. From a child of eight months I was surrounded by all the love and affection which I received from my SOS mother from my first day with her. I was not alone. We were eight brothers and sisters. I got a family like any other child. A family full of love and joy, sharing respect and happiness, etc. and also with some family problems as well. This is the meaning of the real family.
We used all the services around us like schools, shops, markets, … but the best part was when my mother sent me to bring something from the town. It was not far from our home. On my way back home I passed one of the holiest places in the word where thousands of pilgrims and visitors from all over the world come. It is the church of the nativity in Bethlehem, one of the Palestinian cities. It is well known amongst the large number of holy places such as churches monasteries and mosques. The estimated population of Bethlehem is 25,266 inhabitants. The number of families in the city is about 5,211 and the number of housing units is 6,709. The city is characterised by a large number of indigenous Christians who live safely side by side with Muslims.
I stayed in Bethlehem after I left care in my SOS family. I rented a house near the SOS Children’s Village although I did not finish school.
Another important part of family
This was the time when someone else came into my life. This was a lady from Switzerland who had known me when I was a little baby. At that time she was working in the institution where I was placed as a baby before I came to SOS Children’s Villages. This Swiss woman cared for me there. She loved me so much that she wanted to adopt me but this was not possible. She then went back to Switzerland. The only thing this woman knew was my name and the baby photo of me she had. One day she went to the Sea of Galilee where she met another women who had also worked in the same institution at that time. This former colleague of hers then helped her to find me and she did! We established a good relationship. At that time I wanted to become a cook, and having the support of this women whom I still call “mum”, I tried to study cooking in Switzerland several times but I was not given a permanent visa. I got a travel visa and went there many times, always hoping and trying to prolong the stay to a permanent visa, but it was not possible. It was only approved when I was in my mid-twenties but then I refused to do an apprenticeship in Switzerland.
My call to give something back to SOS Children’s Villages
In 1998 the village director asked me if I would drive the children to school early in the morning for free. I said “yes”, because I felt it was time to give something back to my family. I agreed without hesitation. After two weeks the SOS director called me and asked me to meet him at his office in the village. I went there and he told me that he would like me to work for SOS Children’s Villages. I could not believe it. I started working as a driver and put all my efforts and the maximum love and joy into make life easier for the children and mothers. It was my dream to see them happy. This job was not the village director’s dream for me though. With his insistence my life changed. I finished my high school successfully and got my BA degree in Banking and Financial Sciences and at the same time I was appointed assistant to the village director.
So, after five years of work preparing the solid ground for young people to be active and successful in their lives and in the societies they belong to, I left the youth house with the full support of the ND and the great youth care co-worker team. Soon after that I became the family-based care coordinator for the SOS Children’s Village programme in Bethlehem.
At this moment I felt the flow. It is not easy to steer this boat, and I began to feel how heavy this responsibility is. I was full of fear and felt as though I was in the middle of the desert without signposts to show me the way. But I started to consider my education, my experiences and my childhood and the full support I got from the inspiration of father and brother, Mr. Shalaldeh, the national director, and from the team I work with. This is where my journey began and my boat was in flow again. I will not let the boat sink, always taking into consideration the best interests of the child.
The child is the centre of our approach
This is why we accept all the changes and challenges within our organisation which create a better future for the children. One of these challenges is the community approach.
The family is the basic building block of society and the basis for raising children. It is the symbol of emotional, psychological and social stability. From this standpoint SOS Children’s Villages welcomed me as a child with lots of love, affection, safety and respect. I lived with a great mother, I did not realise that she was an SOS mother. She gave me everything a child needs from his or her mother. I grew up with 8 brothers and sisters, as a real family and we are still a family which cares for, supports and helps each other. I am now the uncle of more than twenty six people. I married in January 2015. I and my wife love each other so much; we have one child and we are waiting for the second one to be born in December this year. My life has become happier since I married the woman I love and also when I heard the word Papa from my son.
Video Harvesting Workshop 2018