Being a single parent has to be one of the most challenging roles any person could assume. One does not only need to provide for the needs of the children but also make them feel loved and cherished.
Yet, amidst the hardships, one can also find joy and pride in being a single parent. Take Mama Lisa.
She has been a single mom for almost 20 years now. Knowing that she had successfully raised her children, she could have easily taken off her hat as a mother. But her love for children always brings out the mother in her. So now, for the second time, she wants to be a mother again and build a loving home at SOS Children's Village in Manila.
Of Gathering Strength
Mama Lisa's first motherhood story was of gathering strength. At the age of 21, she became a single parent of two kids. Although she had dreams of continuing her studies, Mama Lisa set that aside. Instead, she went overseas to work for her children's sake.
"It was a sacrifice I needed to make for my children's future. I didn't want them to end up like me. So even though it broke my heart to be apart from them, I chose to work overseas to support their needs," says Mama Lisa.
Despite being oceans apart, Mama Lisa ensured that her children never felt neglected. They would still bond over the phone and do homework together. For Mama Lisa, spending time with her children after a long day of work was the best reward she could ever receive.
"It was all worth it, the 18 years abroad. My children are both in college now, each pursuing their dream courses. My daughter is close to graduating and is working part-time to purchase her own house. As their mother, I couldn't be any prouder,” Mama Lisa added.
When she came home to the Philippines to stay for good, her children were already young adults. Mama Lisa was very grateful to her in-laws for taking good care of her children while she was away. But there are days when she feels regretful that she wasn't at home when the kids were sick or lonely. Mama Lisa couldn't be there to hold them when they were babies. She wasn't home to watch them grow.
Of Empowering Children
Mama Lisa found a new meaning to motherhood when she learned about the SOS mom profession. She was only accompanying her sister-in-law then when she first came to the SOS Children's Village in Manila. The village was looking for potential SOS aunties, and her sister-in-law was hoping to be hired as one. But, unfortunately, Mama Lisa's sister-in-law wasn't qualified due to her age. And so she encouraged Mama Lisa to apply in her stead.
Since then, she has become an SOS auntie. For 2 years, she has been helping SOS mothers take care of the children at home. When SOS mothers were on leave, she'd watch over the children and attend to their needs.
Mama Lisa has warmed her children’s hearts. Ivan* was a shy kid and always avoided people during his first week in the village. Now, he is one of the jolliest kid around.
"Working as an auntie for 2 years has brought my heart closer to the children. At first, I thought that my job here is just to care for these children. But I was wrong, it wasn't a one-way relationship. As time went by, it dawned to me that I am also here to receive their love and affection." - Mama Lisa
The children all have big dreams, they just need support and encouragement. And that's what Mama Lisa is trying to do for these children. She's a shoulder the children can lean on when they feel discouraged.
Her Growing Family
At present, Mama Lisa is no longer an auntie but an SOS mom herself. When the House of Faith reopened in March, she gained three new sons whom she promises to love and care for until they grow up. She's excited to re-experience motherhood, all the joys and challenges included.
“The children are full of love and thoughtfulness,” says Mama Lisa. While she's the one who prepares food most of the time, the children also surprise her with self-made snacks every now and then. And when she misses her biological children, the kids comfort her and make her smile with their funny antics.
Ivan loves spending time with Mama Lisa. According to Mama Lisa, Ivan is a curious child who always likes to ask questions.
"During their first few days at home, I caught myself crying one time while watching them eat. They had really great appetites, eating every last bit of food on their plate and then asking for seconds. These children had difficult childhoods, and it shows. Thankfully, they're in a better place now," shared Mama Lisa.
Mama Lisa had made it a point to introduce her biological children to her kids here at SOS. But because of the pandemic, they have only met each other through video calls. Mama Lisa noted that her SOS children would sometimes get jealous when they would hear her biological children call her Mama.
"My SOS children don't fully understand it yet because they're still small, so my biological kids tease them when they get jealous. I always tell my SOS kids that I love them equally since they're all my children." - Mama Lisa
In the coming years, Mama Lisa will be welcoming more children to her SOS home. This is as we reach more abandoned and neglected children. We hope that through your continuous support and with the dedication of our SOS mothers, many children’s lives will be transformed.