SOS Mother SOS Children's Villages in Ghana
Patience Shine Ama Ohene (l.)photo: © 2018 Stefan Lechner Photography
SOS mother as a leader: the challenges of a co-worker finding a way to balance life and work
My passion for children has led me to be engaged as an SOS mother in Ghana. After having raised my own two biological children, I wanted to extend that affection to needy children. Being an SOS mother, I have a major role to play in the children's lives. I look after their welfare in terms of making sure that they are free from any harmful practices, I make sure they have a balanced life and help them with their homework and research for school.
Responsibilities and joys of being a (SOS) mother
As an SOS mother it is also my duty to manage my household, control the expenses, eliminate waste and teach the children how to handle things well, as well as teaching them good practices so that they can become confident in doing things by themselves.
Sometimes I face challenges in the job, with the children to be precise. They come from different places with different backgrounds and have different characters. This is where I have to show my ability as a mother and leader to control the situation. This also gives me the inner feeling that I am empowered and fought a good fight if the situation has gone well.
Sometimes some children are not academically strong, but they have other talents like crafts, drawing, needlework and dancing. Some are more athletic and play football. I always stand by them and help them in whatever situation they find themselves.
It always gives me joy that one day these children will grow up and become successful and responsible adults in society and my work will not be in vain. It is always advisable to encourage the children. There should not be discouragement in any situation. If this happens, I always contact the social worker and the village director for advice so that my work gets easier.
Individual care for individual children
Amongst my eleven SOS children, I have one particular boy. To protect privacy I would like to call him little prince in this story. He is eleven years old, goes to school and always used to come back late. Both the village director and the SOS social worker tried to talk to him and make him refrain from this behaviour. I also did everything to stop him, but without success. So I worked out a different strategy and my compassion helped me through all of this: before school closed I was already there to pick him up and take him home. Sometimes I gave him gifts or told him a story, or I took him out for a nice walk. So after doing this for about a month, he now no longer comes home late. This is my greatest success story.
My ability to give my children guidance and the positive support they need makes me feel good and strong. Little prince himself is now really proud and happy about his own behaviour. After school, the children walk home together in a group, which promotes a sense of unity and support. This unity helps the children read and tell stories together and it helped them form a reading and storytelling club.
My intervention was also of great help to the other children and mothers. It helped the mothers to reduce the stress of having to continually supervise the children's reading in their different homes. Overall, it has brought a marked improvement in the children's reading and writing skills.
I have changed my behaviour, in that l did not understand little prince's behaviour because l thought l was giving enough attention to all the children equally. What was new this time was to see little prince's behaviour as an individual need which required targeted support as explained by our knowledge of individual differences. What I learned is that every child is unique with their own needs and potentials. There is therefore a need to respect each child's uniqueness.
Learning as a village
I was happy that I achieved my goal and it taught me that, as a leader, you have to be in control. It encourages me to do more of this. I also learnt from this that the moral support has helped not only this particular boy but all the other children in the family house. I have also been able to give guidance to the other mothers and share this good practice with them, so this is a lesson learnt for the whole village.
As I am playing a dual role both as an SOS mother and a mother to my biological children, I give them all equal treatment so that they will see themselves as siblings and love each other.
Another thing which inspires me in my daily work is the recognition that our organisation gives to SOS mothers. This encourages me to do well in my field so that soon I can celebrate my ring ceremony and retirement like my predecessors.
Patience Shine Ama Ohene,
SOS mother, SOS Children's Villages Kumasi, Ghana
As an SOS mother, Shine is particularly conscious of every step she takes to bring up the children entrusted to her. She is aware of how fragile they are, due to their challenging background. She enjoys spending time with them and shows commitment to each child. To her, each of them is unique. She is very proud of her profession as an SOS mother.
Family for her means friendly and stable relationships. She is happy to have been brought up in a noble and respectful family, the same way she brought up her two biological children. She is confident that the love they got makes them responsible community members with values and aspirations. In her leisure time, Shine enjoys reading and listening to public debates. She strives to enhance her eloquence and effective language by activating her brain. Shine lives in the SOS Children’s Village in Kumasi. She feels blessed by the serene environment, which gives her a peaceful mind to read without distraction. Praying is an important part of her life and it helps her in difficult moments.
Video Harvesting Workshop 2018