SOS Children in India: Children for Sponsorship in India
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A growing economy that faces many challenges
India is home to over 1.2 billion people, making it the second most populous country in the world. Economic change has improved the lives of many people since the 1960s, but poverty persists, particularly in rural parts. Nearly a fifth of people lack access to clean drinking water, and 21% suffer as a result of poor sanitation. Although the vast majority of people live in the countryside, unemployment has forced many to seek work in the city. Illiteracy is high, with over half of women unable to read and write. Healthcare remains a concern, with life expectancy under 70 for both men and women.
Children in India
- Around 2 million people die each year from preventable diseases, including 400,000 under five who die from diarrhoea. Half of all child deaths are caused by malnutrition.
- School attendance is low, and child labour is an ongoing problem. Over one child in every ten between the ages of five and 14 is involved in child labour, and many are involved in trafficking.
- The number of children without parental care has increased as cases of HIV/AIDS have risen. Many children also suffer from HIV/AIDS, and face damaging social discrimination as a result.
- Girls are particularly vulnerable to poverty, homelessness and violence. In some areas, two thirds or more of girls drop out of primary school, and many are forced to marry before they reach the age of 18.
Our Work in India
SOS Children began working in India in 1963. Today there are 40 SOS Children’s Villages, eight of which are for Tibetan refugee children. In the Villages over 6,000 once-destitute children now have a permanent family home. Over fifty welfare, educational and medical facilities also provide assistance for people in the wider community.
Alibaug - Mumbai
Opened in 2010, our community in Alibaug, near to Mumbai, provides a loving home for up to 140 children. An SOS Nursery offers pre-school education to up to 60 young children and an SOS Family Strengthening Programme helps around 500 people in the wider community.
We built a community at Ahmedabad in 1981 in the grounds of the Shreyas Foundation in the capital of the state of Gujurat. There are four family houses. This Village is now run by the Shreyas Foundation independently from SOS Children.
We built an SOS Children's Village in Alwaye-Cochin, in the south-western state of Kerala, near to the SOS Children’s Village in Trichur and 15 miles from Alwaye. There are 15 family houses, three SOS Youth Homes and an SOS Nursery. At this SOS Children's Village, Christian, Hindu and Muslim children live together in peace. Behind each house, there is a small garden where vegetables and flowers can be grown.
The SOS Children's Village in Bangalore was built in 1989. The 16 semi-detached family houses are each home to ten children and their SOS mothers. There is a youth house and a nursery school for 100 children. The large natural pond at the village, which contains many varieties of fish and other wildlife, is the delight of the children.
The SOS Children's Village in Bawana is on the outskirts of Bawana, a rapidly growing town about 20 miles north of Delhi. There are 20 family houses, a youth house and a nursery school. Large roofed-over areas serve as playgrounds during the rainy season, and as sleeping areas during the hot weather.
A Family Strengthening Programme provides nutritional, educational and health support as well as vocational training, career counselling sessions and job placement support to vulnerable families in the neighbourhood. Families are linked with existing self-help groups; if there is no group, a new one is formed. The programme also aims at raising awareness of hygiene and child rights.
We opened a new SOS Children’s Village in Begu Sarai in northern India in 2008. It is in the province of Bihar, about 80 miles east of Patna, the provincial capital. There are 14 family homes here, along with an SOS Nursery School and a Family Strengthening Programme for the community families.
The SOS Children's Village in Bhakatpara is about 10 miles from Mangaldoi in the north-eastern state of Assam. The Village has 14 family houses, three youth houses and a nursery school. The children attend local primary and secondary schools.
The nearest hospital is in Mangaldoi but the SOS Children's Village has its own sick bay, which is also open to the local community.
Bhimtal is in the foothills of the Himalayas, about 200 miles north of New Delhi. The name comes from the lake on which it is located (Bhim means big; tal means lake). The SOS Children's Village in Bhimtal has 12 family houses, a playgroud, a youth house, a nursery school, a secondary school for 750 children and an SOS Medical Centre for the community.
Bhimtal is also a holiday camp for children from other SOS Children's Villages in India, due to its beautiful natural surroundings.
The SOS Children's Village in Bhopal was built following the 1984 poison-gas disaster in Bhopal in which many children were orphaned. It is found about five miles from the city centre. The village has 16 family houses, two youth houses, a nursery and a primary school. Markets, secondary schools and a hospital are not far away. A Family Strengthening Programme for vulnerable community families also runs in Bhopal.
The SOS community in Bhubaneshwar (also Bhubaneswar) is situated in eastern India on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in the capital of the state of Orissa. The local population is very poor, with most families trying to earn their living from fishing. Orissa is often hit by natural disasters, such as cyclones and floods. The SOS Children’s Village is made up of 15 family houses for 150 orphaned or abandoned children, an SOS Youth Home and an SOS Nursery. It opened in 1991.
We built the SOS community in Bhuj following an Emergency Relief Programme after the earthquake in Gujurat, western India, in 2001. The Village opened in 2003. There are 14 family houses, an SOS Nursery and a Family Strengthening Programme.
Since there is a special need to encourage the education of girls in this area, we started an SOS School with a small hostel for girls. The school has ten classrooms and provides primary education to up to 350 pupils.
In order to improve the medical infrastructure of the area, an SOS Medical Centre, where people from the neighbourhood can come for examinations and treatment as well as counselling, has been set up.
We built an SOS Children's Village in Chennai (Madras), about three miles from the centre of Chennai, one of India's largest cities. The Village has 15 family houses built in the South Indian style with rooms grouped round an inner courtyard. There is also an SOS Youth Home. Mango and palm trees provide shade during the hot season. The SOS Children's Village has its own SOS Medical Centre which includes a clinic and rooms for counselling. It focuses on health programmes for the local community, such as information campaigns on birth control or HIV / AIDS. An SOS Nursery and Primary School also support the Chennai community.
The SOS community in Faridabad, Delhi, has five family houses and four SOS Youth Homes. Faridabad serves as an SOS mothers' training centre for all SOS mothers in India. An SOS School teaches 1400 pre-school, primary and secondary pupils from the local community, a Family Strengthening Programme, and a Vocational Training Centre. Here, young adults receive commercial and technical training. They can learn office skills, IT, sewing or crafts.
The first community we built in India was in Greenfields, Delhi, in 1968. It is on the main road to Mathura. There are 20 family houses, a village shop, two youth houses and a social centre providing day care, counselling, vocational training and community outreach health programmes. At a nearby village called Anangpur, SOS Children's Villages runs a primary school, an SOS Medical Centre and an SOS Nursing School. The SOS Medical Centre has 14 rooms for medical treatment and five sick beds. It runs a mother-and-child clinic as well as various health programmes. The nursing school is for girls and offers accommodation for some of the students.
SOS Children’s Village Guwahati is in the capital of Assam, north-eastern India, and is surrounded by paddy fields. This community has 16 family houses and three youth houses, and there is a playground and football field here. Little children from the Village and the local community receive a high-quality pre-school education at the SOS Nursery School.
Hojai is one of the three SOS Children's Villages in Assam, and is located 120 miles east of Guwahati. With 20 family houses and five youth houses, we provide a new home and mum to 300 children. A Family Strengthening Programme runs in Hojai too, to support the most vulnerable children in the community.
In the 1990s we came across 200 children from the province of Andhra Pradesh who had been bought from their parents by people who wanted to make money by having these children adopted. The little ones had ended up in a home run by the local authorities, where they were living under terrible conditions. Some children were able to return to their parents after we intervened, and others came to live at the new SOS Children’s Village in Hyderabad. It is situated in Vottinagulapally, about 15 miles from Hyderabad city centre. It has twelve family homes, an SOS Nursery School, and a Family Strengthening Programme.
The residential area of Jaipur is a popular tourist town known as the ’Pink City'. Social problems are immense due to the city's rapid growth in recent years. The SOS Children's Village in Jaipur is situated about a mile from the city’s railway station and has 14 family houses built in the traditional regional style with flat roofs used as sleeping areas during the hot weather. Older children live at the SOS Youth Home. The SOS Nursery School cares for the little children during the day. We have also rented a large home in the town where all retired SOS mothers can live.
Jammu is on the outskirts of the old temple city of Jammu in northern India, in an area where SOS Children has run several emergency aid programmes following violent clashes. The Jammu SOS Children’s Village, which opened in 1998, has 12 family houses, an SOS Nursery and an SOS School for 1,000 pupils (primary and secondary). We also run a Family Strengthening Programme here to support local families in danger of abandoning their children due to economic pressures.
Our Village in Khajuri Kalan in the state of Madhya Pradesh cares for children with special needs. Here, 60 children receive the support they need. The SOS mothers have been specially trained to bring up children with extra needs, and all the houses have been made wheelchair accessible. Most children attend local schools, but for those who require a little more attention, we have an SOS School and Vocational Training Centre. Local children with special needs also attend these schools.
In 2006, SOS Children won the ‘Best NGO’ prize in India for our work with special needs children.
In 1977 an SOS Children's Village was built in Kolkata (Calcutta), eastern India, a city infamous for its levels of abject poverty. The Village has fourteen family houses, a playground and a sick bay, which is also used by the community. In 1991 SOS Youth Homes were added to the Village, and later on, a home for retired SOS mothers was also built. We run an SOS Family Strengthening Programme in Kolkata too.
Latur is in the central state of Maharashtra and was at the epicentre of the 1993 earthquake. An immediate SOS Emergency Relief Programme in the area was followed by the construction of an SOS Children's Village for children orphaned by the disaster. The Latur community has 12 family houses, a SOS Youth Home, an SOS Nursery and an SOS Social Centre. At the SOS Social Centre, local people are counselled in health matters. Children of working mothers from the nearby villages are taken care of during the day and receive a hot lunch.
SOS Children’s Village Nagapattinam in south-eastern India was built in response to the number of children orphaned by the Boxing Day Tsunami. The area was severely affected by the waves and many children lost their parents. There are 12 family homes for 120 children.
Pondicherry, not far from Nagapattinam, is where our first Indian tsunami village was built. SOS Children’s Village Pondicherry (Puducherry) has 15 family homes for 150 orphaned children and it also runs an SOS Nursery School and Family Strengthening Programme, which mainly targets women who were widowed by the tsunami and who now have to bring up their children by themselves.
The SOS Children's Village in the city of Pune, in the state of Maharashtra is about 120 miles south of Mumbai (Bombay). The Village in Pune has 20 family houses, each with a small courtyard, and two SOS Youth Homes. There is an SOS Primary School here too, and a sick bay.
Raipur is the capital city of Chhattisgarh province (central-eastern India) and is well connected by road, rail and air. The province of Chhattisgarh has a population of over 20 million. Despite its rich mineral resources and big industries, such as steel, aluminium and cement, poverty still remains a curse for millions, affecting adults and children alike. The Village opened in 2007 and cares for 140 orphaned or abandoned children in 14 family homes. A Family Strengthening Programme and SOS Nursery also run here.
Rajpura is in the region of Punjab, about 150 miles north of Delhi. The SOS community in Rajpura has 14 family houses and a youth house, as well as a nursery school and Family Strengthening Programme.
Rourkela opened in 2003 following an earlier SOS Emergency Relief Programme in Rourkela for victims of the cyclone in Orissa in 1999. The Rourkela Village has 12 family houses and an SOS Nursery. There is also a big playground - by far the most popular part of the Village! - and youth homes for the older children. Local vulnerable families are supported through the Family Strengthening Programme.
Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya State, an area of great natural beauty in north-eastern India. The SOS Children’s Village is built on the side of a large hill and is surrounded by pine trees; it is a relaxing and beautiful place for the children to grow up. The Shillong Village has 12 family houses with a youth house, a nursery school, kitchen gardens, a training workshop and there is an Family Strengthening Programme here too.
Opened in 2004, our village in Srinagar provides a loving home to up to 80 children. There is also an SOS Family Strengthening Programme providing help to children and families in the wider community.
SOS Children's Village Tirupati opened in 2011 and is home to up to 120 children in 12 family houses. There is also an SOS Nursery for about 60 young children. An SOS Family Strengthening Programme offers community care to people in need of its services, which include health counselling, training workshops, counselling and psychological support.
Trichur is in the south-western state of Kerala, and it is close to the SOS Children’s Village in Alwaye-Cochin. Trichur is an important cultural and trading centre in the state. It is situated in a fertile agricultural area. The SOS Children's Village in Trichur has 17 family houses, an SOS Youth Home and an SOS Nursery.
Varanasi is about 10 miles from the holy city of Benares on the river Ganges, and close to the Buddhist place of pilgrimage, Sarnath. It is situated in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. The SOS community in Varanasi, located 15 miles from the town, has 18 family houses, two SOS Youth Homes, a sick bay, an SOS Nursery, a Family Strengthening Programme and an SOS Secondary School which has places for 900 pupils.
Visakhapatnam is in the Andhra Pradesh state, an area that was devastated by a cyclone in 1996 in which many children were orphaned. The SOS Children's Village is located about 20 miles from the city of Visakhapatnam in a town called Bheemunipatnam. The area around the SOS Children's Village is prone to drought. The SOS Children’s Village in Visakhapatnam, which opened in 1998, has 14 family houses and an SOS Nursery. We also run a Family Strengthening Programme here to support families who are in danger of breaking up due to financial or emotional pressure.
Life in SOS Children's Villages India
Sisters Sirisha and Amita, aged ten and nine, used to live in the fishing community of Akkampetai. Their mother was killed in the Tsunami and they had no other relatives able to take care of them. When the girls came to SOS Children's Village Pondicherry they were very quiet and sensitive. Unlike the other children they didn’t talk or play with anyone. Sirisha and Amita were given special counselling by SOS Children to help them cope with their trauma.
Their SOS mother played a crucial role in guiding them towards a life worth living again. She made every possible effort to make them feel wanted and loved. "The girls were very sad, especially Sirisha. She would often talk about her family and her mother. It was not easy for me to help her overcome her trauma and get her into a normal routine," said their SOS mother. "I always talked positively with them about their future, their school and tried to involve them in different activities. I made sure that they were not left alone and I was always with them”. Gradually things began to fall in place. The girls started going to school and became involved in their new routine.
Now Sirisha is in class seven and Amita in class six. They are very close to each other. Sirisha takes care of Amita. In the meantime, both girls are doing well at school; Amita is even top of her class. And in their spare time, they have rediscovered what they like. For instance, both of them like playing chess and skipping, and both love dancing. When it comes to favourite dishes, their tastes are, however, extremely different: Sirisha loves ice cream, whereas Amita likes all kinds of seafood.
SOS Children's Villages of India
Plot Nr 4, Block C-1 Institut. Area
Nelson Mandela Marg
110 070 New Dehli
Tel:+91 11 4323 9200
Fax:+91 11 4323 9292