From our SOS Children's Villages, we reach out to families in the surrounding community. Working together with local people and organisations, we identify needs and provide practical and emotional tools for parents and caregivers.
As well as creating SOS families in our Children's Villages, we help local families to stay together through our “family strengthening programmes”. These aim to prevent family breakdown and child abandonment.
Each family is offered a package of services and a family development plan. Gradually, they build their capacities and are better able to care for and protect their children. Services are tailored to each family's needs, with our long-term goal to empower families to be financially independent.
We also run other, wider-reaching community projects, which aim to foster a safe, nurturing environment in which children can grow up. Working with the wider community means we can reach beyond SOS Children's Villages and help thousands of children and their families. In 2015, our community work reached 467,000 children and adults.
Meet the families we support
This playlist features families who have benefited from our community work in India, Kenya and Swaziland, and whose children can now look forward to a bright future.
Strengthening and empowering families
“If SOS Children's Villages was not here, our children would have become street children, with all the risks this may cause. Today, we are proud of ourselves, and many of us have found dignity. We can now stand on our own feet.”
—A mother in Dakar, Senegal, who we helped achieve financial independence through our community work
There are many factors which increase the risk of family breakdown and separation of children from their families. We target the risk factors that are most common in a community. In one region, that may be the impact of HIV/AIDS on families' welfare, while in another part of the world families may need help affording school fees or finding work.
Although the services we offer vary according to the needs of a community, here are a few examples of the support we provide:
- Ensure children have access to essential services, e.g. education, healthcare, nutrition, legal support and improvements to living conditions.
- Help parents to create a nurturing family life. This includes teaching skills to improve parenting, childcare, child health and household budget planning.
- Help parents to have a stable income. We provide vocational training, literacy programmes, and support with setting up a business or finding a job. This means families can become financially independent and afford to send their children to school. This reduces the need for children to work.
- Offer daycare for young children. At SOS Nurseries parents can leave their children in safe hands while they go to work or attend our workshops.
- Provide therapy and psychosocial support. When a young person has lost a parent, when a family member has a life-limiting disease, or when they are living through a civil war, we help children cope or recover.
- Give legal advice. We let families know what their legal rights are and what state benefits they are entitled to.
We work with local partners and organisations when supporting families, to ensure initiatives are rooted in the community. This way, we strengthen a community’s capacity to help families in the long term.
What kind of families do we help?
We offer support to any kind of family in need. Some families are at high risk of hardship, and we tailor services towards these families. These include families where:
- Children have lost one or both parents
- Children are living in an orphan household, where the care-giver is a grandparent, sibling or other relative
- Children whose parents have a life-threatening illness.
Meeting changing needs
What is considered a high-risk group in one community may not be in another. As with all of our work, we implement our outreach programmes in a culturally sensitive and community-specific way.
We try to avoid being prescriptive in the services we offer to those we support, seeking instead to build our programmes around the unique needs of individual communities. Our goal is always to create a safe and stable environment in which children can flourish.
In the Gambia's impoverished Foni Jarrol district, we are empowering women so that they can drive change in their own communities, creating a better upbringing for generations of children. Find out more...
Financial empowerment for single mothers: Beronika learns new skills in India
Beronika lives in Pradhanpalli, near the SOS Children's Village in Rourkela, India. After separating from her alcoholic husband, she was left to care for two young children and an elderly mother.
With few skills, Beronika struggled to provide for her family. That changed when she joined our family strengthening programme. Beronika joined a support group for women who want to become financially independent. She learnt IT skills, and discovered how to generate and manage her income.
Beronika's knowledge and self-confidence grew, and she has started selling vegetables at the local market. Most importantly, she now earns a stable income and can afford to send both her children to school. “SOS Children's Villages has given me and my children a new life,” Beronika says.
The monthly meetings and workshops Beronika attends at the SOS Social Centre focus on children's rights, healthy living conditions and good parenting. Other women in the group admire Beronika's enthusiasm, ambition and business success.
If you would like to hear more stories of the families we have supported through our community outreach work, check out the related content links at the bottom of this page.
SOS Children's Villages supports vulnerable families across the world, helping to prevent children from losing the care of their family. You can make sure families keep receiving tailored services and support by donating today.