Friday, January 9, 2009

Cheers and tears as Mama Stephen retires

The day was favorable, the sun had passed its zenith, and was retiring towards the West when the SOS Children’s Village Eldoret witnessed the second farewell party for its second retiring mother. The big retirement party on January 2nd was one to remember as members of staff from the four villages gathered at the Kenmosa village to pay tribute to Mama Stephen (house 1) for her long years of service to the SOS Children.

Mama Stephen retires after serving the organization for close to 22 years. She is a living icon of courage, perseverance, and resilience in the challenging work of raising children. The transition has been in the works for 7 months since she announced her plan to step down from daily duties. The incoming mother has taken up her duties with enthusiasm and has been adequately mentored by the outgoing mother.
The ceremony was led by the Village Director, Mr. Peter Mungai and graced by the first retired mother from Nairobi village, Mama James. He commended her great sacrifice, dedication and diligence in work.

There were dozens of poignant moments throughout the momentous occasion that was punctuated by songs and dance. But the most touching of them all was the reality that the children had to contend with - their mother retiring from active duty. It was a tearful moment as the children, some of whom are now independent, shared the memories and the connection they had established with their mother. They heaped adulation on her for her love, patience and care. "Our mother gave us an enormous, enormous opportunity to grow up as children naturally," her eldest daughter Elizabeth Hassan said, breaking down into tears. "And I want to thank her for the love and care she gave us”. Mama Stephen’s children acknowledged that it won't be easy to move on, given how naturally they had bonded with their mother, but promised to support and cooperate with the new Mother.

Her fellow mothers showered her with praise. They equated her effort and subsequent passage to the biblical journey of the Israelites from Egypt. “Today the baton is handed over to Joshua (symbolic of the new mother taking over the house) who must rise above the challenge and complete what Mama Stephen had started. At the ceremony, Mama Edna, a longtime friend to Mama Stephen presented her with a white handkerchief that signified her sincere and honest work.

“I actually never thought she would really retire”, said Mama Ngudi. She has been talking about it for the last few years, but her end date kept getting pushed further and further back or maybe to a different time of year, until I finally decided she never would leave.

The School Principal, Mr. Elijah Omobe applauded the retiring mother for her selfless service and reminded the audience that it is not how we start that counts but how we finish. “The works of Mama Stephen is manifested in the children that she has raised”, he added.

For her part, Mama Stephen thanked the co-workers for the support they gave her in the duty of raising children. She observed that even the times that were the toughest, the support of everyone made work a bit lighter. She noted that the retirement seminars she attended adequately prepared her to transition to a new beginning. "So let me just close by saying you've made it so much for me. There won't be a day of my life that I'm not thinking about SOS Children’s Villages, and the great things that it's doing, and wanting to help” she concluded.
With those words, Mama Stephen marked the end of a career that has lasted for 22 years.

1 comment:

Alpha Tishi said...

it's trully greatful to be one of the children who this mother took care of.i remember i was still a small kid by then.growing up with her was amazing because she taught me how to live well and she showed me all a mother's qualities which she has.her dexterity in the work she was dedicated to.All in all i hope that the almighty will reward her for this.we will all miss you!

your son,
Alpha Otieno