25
February

Published: Thursday, 25.02.2016

Happy 24th birthday to us! We wish a life full of games, fairy tales, love and happiness to every child

Association SOS Children's Village Croatia was founded exactly on this day 24 years ago. Today we provide care for 240 children without parents and parental care. To mark this occasion, we talked to SOS mother Gordana Horvat about her work here, which began in 1992.

 Every human being feels a natural need for respect, a sense of belonging and love. Similarly, every child needs a mother, a family, a home. Unfortunately, for some children, what should be a basic feature of their life, a natural right, becomes a luxury out of their reach. For the past 24 years, Association SOS Children's Village Croatia has made sure that such children in Croatia can grow up in a carefree, loving environment. Our Association came into being with the goal of creating families for children without parental care and providing them with carefree, happy childhood on February 25, 1992. Today, 24 years later, we can proudly say that we look after 240 children without parents and parental care in two SOS Children's Villages in Lekenik and Ladimirevci and in four SOS Youth Facilities. We also provide help and support through numerous emergency relief programmes and through our Family Strengthening Programme, designed to prevent family separation.

We work to the best of our capacity to help every child in our care grow into an accomplished adult. This is why every child who comes to the SOS Children's Village Croatia gets what truly is the foundation of every success – love! And since only a mother can give her child unconditional love, SOS Children's Village makes sure that children without parents and adequate parental care get that love from our SOS mothers. Warm, caring, full of love and understanding, SOS mothers become their “save haven”. This is why SOS mothers are our greatest source of pride, and SOS mothers like Gordana Horvat are a testament to the success of our longstanding efforts.

“I started working in SOS Children's Village Lekenik twenty-four years ago, so I have to admit my memories of those first days are a bit hazy. In the beginning, we didn’t even have a Village. My colleagues and I – three SOS mothers and an auntie – began our work in a rented house in Lekenik. The first child in my care was a 15-month old boy. He was so little and he couldn’t walk yet. I was immediately invested in his wellbeing and two weeks later, he was walking. Soon the house began to fill with children: one colleague got two children, the other one three”, remembers Gordana, who came to the SOS Children's Village Lekenik at the age of 29.

In her career as an SOS mother, she has raised 17 children. According to her, that’s a modest number – some of her colleagues have raised more than 30. However, Gordana’s SOS house was always a destination for the youngest children, who therefore remained with her for many years. It’s precisely for this reason that she has forged such strong bonds with her children. She is in contact with all of her SOS children to this day, including those who left the SOS Village a long time ago, who already graduated from college and started their own families. She likes to boast that she has several SOS grandchildren already.

SOS Children's Village is also the place where Gordana met her best friend, another SOS mother. “My best friend is retiring soon and I have to admit that her departure will be very difficult for me. She is my rock, just as I am hers. We always have our coffee together, we talk, encourage and empower each other”, says Gordana, who has another eleven years until her retirement. She admits that she has her bad days too, but she points out that children always inspire her and give her strength to continue.

“You can’t always be happy and content. The job of an SOS mother has its tough moments, just like any other job. But my children always lift me up and help me move forward. One day when I retire and leave the Village, I am going to miss the energy, the crowded house, children’s voices, smiles and their faces. But I know leaving will not be the end”, says SOS mother Gordana, whose pride and joy in her work remains undiminished after twenty-four years of working in Association SOS Children's Village Croatia.

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