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India is home to 1.2 billion people, yet one out of every three girls growing up here will not finish primary school, and 40% of its adults cannot read or write. You can give a child an education and a happy childhood by sponsoring a child in one of our 34 SOS Children's Villages in India. … more about our charity work in India

“The happiness of the children is clear for all to see”: Network Scouts visit SOS Children’s Village in India

Glenn and Isobel with an SOS family
Glenn and Isobel with an SOS family

Glenn Hadley and Isobel Mitchell of the Hornchurch Network Scouts visited the SOS Children’s Village Bawana in the North West of India earlier this year. Reflecting on their trip, the pair describe their experiences of meeting the SOS families and learning about the successes of children who have grown up there.

"As our rickety rickshaw trundled out of the hustle and bustle of Rithala in north Delhi and headed down a dusty road to the SOS Children’s Village in Bawana we were full of anticipation…with just a hint of nerves.

By now we’d been in Delhi for three days, the starting point for two weeks of travelling around India as part of a scout expedition. Those three days had turned out to already be quite an experience, and we wondered what would await us at the Bawana Children’s Village.

The friendly, relaxed atmosphere provided a stark contrast to the franticness that we’d experienced so far in India. As the didi (older sister) of the Village, Sushma gave us a warm welcome and took the time to tell us all about the history of the charity and how the Village works. Sushma told us that when the children arrive they have “lost their smile” but that the Village “get them smiling again and the rest will look after itself.”  We were given a tour and had the chance to meet some of the children, as well as the people at the heart of the Village - the SOS mothers. These mothers work tirelessly to give up to ten children a happy and fulfilling childhood.

After the tour, we were given tea and biscuits (without a doubt the best cuppa we had throughout our whole trip, and we’re pleased to report that dunking is a tradition in India too!), and told some stories about children who grew up in the Village. One story was of a boy who came to the Village at the age of four, after having spent months living on railway platforms, battling with TB and other diseases. He was nursed back to health and, with the support of his new family, grew up to complete a degree in hotel management. He now works in one of the top hotels in Abu Dhabi.

Too soon, it was time to wave goodbye to the calm and peaceful Village and head back out onto the bustling streets of Delhi. Being scouts, we couldn’t leave without presenting Sushma with our unit scarf and leaving one of our unit badges for each home.

The visit to SOS Bawana proved to be a real highlight of our trip. The happiness of the children is clear for all to see and the work that the mothers do is outstanding. The whole concept of providing children with a loving home, family and mother and a good education is a simple one, and one that makes a massive difference to their lives.

We were prompted to arrange the visit as SOS Children are a partner charity of the Scout Association. We’re so pleased that we went, we only wish we’d had more time to spend there!"

Scouting with SOS Children

SOS Children has engaging, interactive ideas to encourage Scouts in all sections to develop an interest in the lives of children in other parts of the world. Find out more and check out our resources.