SOS Children in Azerbaijan
Overview of Azerbaijan
Formerly part of the Soviet Union, independence in 1991 was followed by huge social and economic upheaval, soaring inflation and the breakdown of industry and services. In the early 1990s, conflict with Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorny-Karabakh resulted in thousands of casualties and the displacement within Azerbaijan of about one million people.
Despite abundant resources of oil and natural gas, Azerbaijan has very high unemployment. The standard of living is low and poverty and destitution are increasing. The oil-generated wealth in Baku has not filtered down to the most vulnerable. Children, the disabled, the elderly and refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) remain poor. Basic services such as refuse clearance are inadequate, with serious health implications, whilst dangerous levels of pollution have caused high rates of disability amongst children. Respiratory conditions and parasitic infections are the principal causes of infant and under-five mortality.
Our Work in Azerbaijan
At present we support over 9,600 people in Azerbaijan through two SOS Children’s Villages, one SOS Youth Home, one SOS Nursery School, one SOS Playbus and two SOS Family Strengthening Programmes.
The first SOS Children's Village in Azerbaijan opened in May 2000. SOS Children’s Village Baku took in many children from the Ganja City Orphanage; for many it was their first real home. Pleasantly situated in a residential area on the outskirts of Azerbaijan’s capital, amongst olive groves and pine trees overlooking the Caspian Sea, it has 14 family houses providing a new home for up to 126 children. The village has a nursery for the younger children from the village as well as children from the local neighbourhood, helping the village to integrate with the local community. Older children attend local schools. Leisure activities include dancing and karate.
In addition, SOS Children run an SOS Playbus which travels around Baku. It is a mobile centre offering fun and educational play materials for children, and it stops off at public parks and hospitals, at orphanages and grey concrete tower blocks. Activities such as drama, dancing, dressing up, face painting and various craft activities help children to obtain confidence in themselves and trust in others. The educational games teach the children about their rights and the environment, and during the events the Playbus-team shows the parents and teachers new teaching methods and encourages them to develop new ideas.
In February 2007, we began a Family Strengthening Programme (FSP) in Baku, which increases the ability of vulnerable families to care for their children, and prevent child abandonment and family breakdown. For children we offer: a day-care centre, child development activities and distribution of food and school items. For adults, the programme offers counselling and psychological support, support in finding a job, and legal support. Families usually become independent from the programme after 3-5 years.
A second SOS Children's Village opened in Ganja, the country's second largest city, in 2006. 14 family houses provide a new home for up to 110 children. A workshop provides space for older children to learn new skills. Hospitals, schools and shops are all within walking distance. Young children from the village attend a nursery close by. The nursery is supported by SOS Children to raise the quality of its services. A Family Strengthening Programme (FSP) also runs in Ganja, ensuring that children have access to essential services and supporting families to stay together.
For more information about the work we do in Azerbaijan see our page on Azerbaijan Orphans.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Azerbaijan: Eshgin's StoryWhen Eshgin was six years old, his mother died and he came to live at SOS Children’s Village Baku. This is his SOS mother Leyla’s story: “Eshgin was angry that his mother had died: he couldn’t accept that someone else had to look after him. One day when he was crying, I went over to him, sat on the bed and told him I knew his mother died and that I was not trying to take her place. His grief was immense, and he was lashing out at me. But after a year or so, he began to accept that his mother was gone, and he started giving his new life a try. Eshgin has been in the Village for eight years now, and we talk about his mother all the time. We went to her grave recently. He laid flowers and told her that he has a new loving mother to take care of him, that she shouldn't worry and that he is happy. He told her he misses her a lot and that there'll always be a place for her in his heart."
SOS Children's Villages Azerbaijan
D. Aliyeva str. 251-A
Tel: +994 12 489 0296
Fax: +991 12 489 0297