Saved Our Souls

29th November 2017 is the true date of the events that I am going to be talking about today. It was the day of another one of our ‘field trips’ during our community medicine rotation. One thing that the faculty of our college love announcing everywhere is how they’ve changed the curriculum up to make all ‘hands on’ and interactive. In community medicine, it means (1) lots of field trips and (2) lots of student presentations.

Each field trip ends up with either reflective writing (where we talk about how we felt, what we experienced during the trip) or a presentation (about what we’ve learned). This field trip was to an SOS Village in Islamabad, which is near NUST, quite a way in. It’s a pretty secluded place in my opinion, far from the general hustle bustle of the city so once inside, it really does feel like a village in terms of peace and quiet.

 Heads up before we get started: it was a great trip.

I would give an introduction to what SOS Village is (it’s basically an orphanage) but you can read up all about it here. I just want to talk about the things I saw and what I really liked about this place, the things that stood out to me, all that stuff. Anyway, before we headed to the Village, my classmates all pooled in cash to buy things like chips and candy in bulk for the kids. We do that before all the trips that involve children (like the visit we did to the disabled kids school, to be written about soon).

Once we got to the village, it seemed deserted. We usually head out of our own campus by 10:30 am so we must have reached there around 11:00 am. It turned out that the kids of the village were all at school. It was exam season for them, so they were scheduled to be out by 12:00 am. Till then, we were guided by a wonderful lady who was watching over the village.

She explained some background of the Village and how it came to be. SOS Village is an international organization that builds orphanages for children to help rehabilitate and reintroduce to society. Initially, there was no plan for there to be an SOS Village in Islamabad, but the 2005 earthquake changed things. It was such a devastating event that left so many families broken and children orphaned, not to mention destruction of homes that left them homeless as well. SOS Village was then constructed primarily to rehabilitate the young victims.

One thing that really interested me was how the village was set up. There are ten homes and each home has ten children. The children in each home are all of variable ages, but generally, there is one child of every age in each home, to give the family a proper structure. There are older children who help take care of the younger ones and help the mother take care of all of them. I felt that this was a great way to help set up families and give the orphaned children siblings in each other.

The mothers of each household were also destitute women who had nowhere else to go, so not only was SOS Village rehabilitating children, but also women. Children could be taken from any early age, however the cut off was around 10-12 years, with some exceptions and more strictness when it came to boys. These children would then stay in the Village until they could move out on their own. For boys, it was typically until their twenties when they could leave for university/jobs. For girls, it was until they could get married. Once boys were in their later teenager years, they were shifted out of the main village and into the boys’ area where it was like a dorm. Here they would have to learn to take care of themselves, like wash their own clothes, make their own beds, as opposed to having the mother do it.

Anyway, we got to visit each and every single home in the village, distributing all the food we had brought with us. Then later, the kids started trickling in and joined our tour, telling us about their exams and in general being super friendly. They all wanted to play, cricket, hopscotch, anything and everything, and eventually, we did start playing. Dodge the ball was a favorite at the start until the boys started joining and began their own cricket match. Some other kids brought their gear and played badminton. It was all a lot of fun. The kids were super respectful and excited to play with us.

Another thing I really liked was how all the kids were so friendly with the lady in charge. They would run around her and hold her hand and ask her for everything. She lived in the Village so she had a pretty sharp eye on everyone and made sure everything functioned smoothly.

Image may contain: 16 people, people smiling, people standing
Some of the houses were donated from various organizations or from sponsors. The Village runs mostly on sponsorships where people could fund a child for a month or so. People donate heavily to organizations that are genuinely working and showing good output and SOS Villages is one of them. However, while money is also important to run such an establishment, time is also valuable. To spend time and volunteer at these places is also an invaluable way to donate. Sure, the kids liked the junk food we brought, but it was the time spent playing and talking which was far more valuable to them.

You should really check these places out and consider donating to them- time or money or even just doing some public awareness about these places. A third, last thing that I really liked was how all the funds are spent solely on the kids. None of it is spent on marketing. I think that really shows how committed to their goal these places are.

I hope you liked reading and seeing and taking part in my experiences. Have a nice day.

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Author: Kanra Khan

I'm a Pakistani American student of medicine, or more precisely, an almost-graduate of MBBS Class of 2019. I like to write about my experiences in med school and my adventures in life, which range from traveling, to art, to blogging and photography. Like what you're seeing so far? Consider exploring a bit more! The Lunar Descent is endless.

One Reply to “Saved Our Souls”

  1. I love this post (but you already know that because I loved it on Bloglovin'). I didn't know there was an SOS Village in Islamabad. It's a well-known charity here in the Netherlands, but I don't think many people actually know what it's about. Your post really makes me consider donating some money while I still have a steady income – if I can choose to directly donate to the SOS Village in Islamabad ;P

    x Envy
    Lost in Translation

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