– 27 December 2017
Youth leader on his experiences in an SOS Children’s Village
Marco Paulo Monteiro, 32, a national youth leader at SOS Children’s Villages Cape Verde, is passionate about family life. From his own experiences growing up in an SOS Children’s Village, the biggest message he has learnt is the importance of doing your best and giving love to your family.
Today, Marco Paulo is a successful young man with a family of his own, which he describes as “my motivation, my inspiration”. He and his wife have two boys and are eagerly awaiting the upcoming birth of their third child. However, his early life was very different. His mother struggled to meet his needs and his father neglected him.
When his biological parents were unable to care for him, Marco joined the SOS Children’s Village Assomada, Cape Verde, at the age of four. “It was a like a new world for me,” he said, while reflecting on his first impressions of the SOS Children’s Village. But step by step, I started to integrate and play with the other children. The environment was really loving.”
This was due in part to the “tremendous support” from his SOS mother, Martinha da Veiga. “I have few memories [of joining the village], but I can remember my mother, the way she took care of me and my SOS brothers too. She was dedicated to giving us a warm upbringing,” he said.
“We all went together on Sundays to visit her own family. For me, this was one of the main quality moments because it was an opportunity to do different things outside the village.”
This strong bond has continued. Today, Marco Paulo still has a strong relationship with his SOS mother, who is now retired, regularly visiting and calling her.
In 2012, Marco Paulo was hired at SOS Children’s Villages Cape Verde as a national youth leader. “Working as a national youth leader is a way to repay what SOS has done for me,” he explained. “I don’t think it’s enough, but for me it’s an opportunity to thank SOS for all the things they have done for me.”
Inspired by SOS role models even today
Marco Paulo with his SOS mother, Martinha da Veiga. Photo: SOS Archives.
Even today, he sees his SOS mother as a role model. “I think the mothers are role models. They are the main people at SOS Children’s Villages.” His SOS brother also works for SOS Children’s Villages Cape Verde, as a national advisor for the programme department, and Marco Paulo considers him a professional role model as well as a friend. “He represents for me all my SOS brothers, and at a professional level he helps me to develop.”
Marco Paulo says family is central to his life, and this is something he shares with the young people he works with, often inviting them to spend time with his family and share in the loving environment.
“The message I pass on to youth is to do their best for their own family,” he said. “Give love to your family. That is the main value I learnt at SOS Children’s Villages.”