Poonam and her SOS Mother Madhavi
India – 19 July 2018

A young woman reflects on her SOS family

Poonam Kaul, who grew up in Faridabad, is like many 19-year-olds who are getting ready to leave home and go off to college.

She feels excited about what lies ahead for her at nursing school, as well as a bit sad as she is sure she will miss her family.

But while Poonam is a typical teenager, her journey to this point has been different than for many other young people.

Poonam grew up in the SOS Children’s Village in Faridabad, close to Delhi, India’s capital. Since the age of eight, she has shared her home with a total of 15 other children over the years, all of whom she considers her brothers and sisters.

A loving mother

The person she credits the most with helping her become the confident, driven and happy-go-lucky person she is today is her SOS mother, Madhavi Pal.

“The most important role in my life is played by my mother. She has always guided me in each and everything, from the time when I came here, and as I’m leaving now,” says Poonam, sitting in the living room, family photos proudly displayed on the walls.

“She is a loving mother. She is very supportive of me. Whenever I need help from her, she is ready to help me in each and every way,” Poonam adds. “She’s the kind of mother I always wanted. She’s loving, caring, supporting – guiding me and motivating me.”

Today, Poonam is very strong and determined woman. However, she admits that this was not always the case.

When she first came to the SOS Children’s Village in Faridabad, she had low self-esteem and was unmotivated, she says. Poonam prefers not to talk or think about her life before joining Madhavi’s home. What she does know is that growing up in the SOS family helped her to find her identity and become the person she is today. She credits her mother for pushing her to study and always emphasising the importance of education.

“Right now I’m a motivated person, and my confidence is high,” says Poonam, who reached her academic goal by getting an 84% on the state college entrance exam. “I know I can adjust to any environment.”

Inspired by a saint

Poonam decided to become a nurse in part because she was inspired by the life of Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun and saint who worked in India most of her life caring for the poor and sick. “Mother Teresa is my idol, because she was a kind-hearted and very charitable person,” Poonam says. This example made her want to choose a profession where she could use her knowledge and skills to help people. “As a nurse, you can help the injured, even save someone’s life,” she says, adding that one day she would like to work abroad as a nurse.

Her SOS mother, Madhavi, says she is happy that Poonam has chosen a career like nursing where the job prospects are high and she can help people. Of course, though, like any mother, Madhavi is sad to see Poonam move out and go to live at the nursing college – even if it is in the same city.

“I’m feeling sad, but I’m also very proud,” she says.

Learn more about our work in India