Aluva, which used to be known as Alwaye, is a suburb of the city of Cochin in the southern Indian province of Kerala. As one of the fastest growing cities in India, Cochin is under pressure to keep up with the rapid population growth.
The living conditions of the urban area are poor, and there are an estimated 280 slums in Cochin.
Poor facilities lead to disease
Life in the Indian province of Kerala has improved over the past few decades. Literacy and life expectancy rates are among the highest in the country. However, many still endure inadequate sanitary facilities and poor access to safe drinking water, leading to illness and disease. There is a lack of affordable housing, unemployment rate is high, and many babies are born with a low birth weight.
Challenges faced by children in Cochin
Due to the lack of adequate infrastructure, children in the city of Cochin often suffer from malnutrition and sickness. Many do not go to school, or have dropped out to work and support their families. These children can be found begging or selling small goods on the streets.
While some street children return to their families at the end of the day, others have lost parental care, and live alone on the streets of the city. These children are especially vulnerable as they struggle to keep safe, healthy and well-nourished
How do we help children in Alwaye-Cochin?
Firstly, the SOS Children's Village in Alwaye-Cochin supports vulnerable children whose parents are unable to look after them. Secondly, the SOS Social Centre delivers a range of services to families in the community to help them stay together and take good care of their children.
At the SOS Children's Village, children who can no longer stay with their families find a loving home with one of the 15 SOS families. They grow up with SOS siblings and are cared for by an SOS mother. Behind each house there is a small garden with vegetables and flowers. There is also a playground and sports field, and an SOS school, where local children also attend. As the children grow older they join the SOS youth programme.
Help for fragile families
At our SOS Social Centre we work in close partnership with local authorities and community programmes. Here, we provide day care and aim to raise awareness of hygiene, HIV/AIDS, women’s and children's rights and give guidance on parenting skills. We provide families with food, as well as educational support, medical advice, vaccinations and treatment. We also offer vocational training, career counselling and advice so that families can generate their own income. Families we have been working with are now able to earn an income through tailoring and making jewellery, candles and bamboo products.
As a result of our family support work in Alwaye-Cochin, SOS Children received the 1999 annual National Award of India for outstanding performance in the field of child development and welfare.
Since 1990, SOS Children has been helping vulnerable children and families to thrive in Alwaye-Cohin. You can support our work here by sponsoring a child today.