Dominga Abrego’s job as architect with one of Panama’s top construction companies is far removed from the dire circumstances in which she spent her first five years. That was before she became part of the SOS Children’s Village Penonomé family – one she continues to remain a part of as a role model and mentor.
The faces of the children currently growing up in the SOS Children’s Village Penonomé lit up with pleasure when Dominga arrived in December with bags full of presents. Together with other former SOS young people, Dominga arranged and sponsored a Christmas party with lots to eat and drink, and of course toys for everyone.
The party was one of the ways in which Dominga is continually giving thanks for the love and care she received from SOS Children’s Villages. She was five when she arrived as the abandoned and malnourished child of parents from an indigenous group native to a region of the country where they were discriminated against.
Dominga as a little girl growing up in SOS Children’s Village Penonomé, Panama. Photographer: SOS Archives
Over the years, Dominga overcame many more obstacles and situations where the chances of being discriminated against were high. She chose a career dominated by men in Panama and now supervises projects where the majority of workers are male.
“My experience at SOS Children’s Village Penonomé was unforgettable. I learnt and was taught many values of life. I learnt to share with children who experienced different problems before they came to the SOS Children’s Village Penonomé. It made me realise I was not alone in this world,” says Dominga.
With the support of her SOS mother and Mr Dimas Montenegro, Village Director, Dominga turned into a healthy young girl with excellent academic results. Her hard work and their love and support helped her realise her dream of obtaining her architecture degree.
“I am motivated to help, because I see myself in the children. My experience was similar to theirs. I will always help them where I can. I feel I am in debt to God and to SOS Children’s Villages. Without them, I don’t even know what my future would have been like.”
“Dominga’s greatest achievement was to overcome big obstacles in life. She is a role model not only for girls entering the SOS Children’s Village Penonomé. She has successfully ventured into a non-traditional career and has managed to perform well.”
Mr Dimas Montenegro, Village Director SOS Children’s Village Penonomé.