Begu Sarai, Bihar
In spite of recent progress, the province of Bihar continues to be one of the least developed in India. The town of Begu Sarai is located in Bihar, in north-east India. It is an important commercial centre, but poverty rates are higher than in other regions.
While the state of Bihar suffers from both flooding and droughts, the town of Begu Sarai has its own problems of overcrowding and inadequate infrastructure.
Bad infrastructure leads to health problems
A serious threat to the growing population of Begu Sarai is the shortage of clean drinking water, insufficient sanitation facilities, and polluted waterways. These problems are particularly bad in the 36 slum areas in the city, where most people depend on communal hand pumps for water and there are no proper toilets.
Parents who are struggling to earn an income often find it difficult to meet the material and emotional needs of their children. Some children who grow up in these conditions are at high risk of losing parental care.
Gender equality key to development
The average literacy rate in the city is 66%, but there is a significant difference between the male literacy rate of 74% and the female rate of just 57%. Among the poorest families, children of both sexes sometimes drop out of school so that they can contribute to the family income. However, it is still more common for girls to leave school earlier than boys. SOS Children aims many of its activities at women and girls to try to improve their situation.
SOS Children provides emergency relief in Bihar
During the disastrous flood in 2008 which affected more than 2.3 million people in the area, we provided emergency relief in nearby Jorgama. Once the basic needs of the affected population were met, we continued to give long-term support to the community. We now have an SOS social centre here which runs a family support programme.
What is SOS Children doing to help in Begu Sarai, Bihar?
Firstly, when children can no longer live with their families, we provide a new home in an SOS family, where happy, healthy family unit in which children are cared for by an SOS mother and grow up with their SOS brothers and sisters. Older children attend local schools; a setting in which they can make friends with other children from the community. The children in our care are given extra tuition so that they can do well at school.
Young adults can join our SOS youth programme when they are ready to leave their SOS families. They are guided through this new stage of their lives, with the support of qualified professionals, as they start vocational training courses, attend higher education and look for work. These young people are encouraged to develop perspectives for their future and increasingly become more independent.
Secondly, we work closely with local agencies and community-based organisations to identify families who are in need in Begu Sarai, and we provide them with the support they require. SOS social centres provide key services such as healthcare, daycare and workshops on issues such as hygiene, children's rights and good parenting.
In Begu Sarai we work in partnership with a local medical association which provides free medical consultations to children. Children who do not attend school are taught in our social centre, so that they can be admitted into mainstream education. In order for families to earn an income we offer them vocational training, career counselling and advice on job hunting. For example, we train people in advanced agricultural techniques and older girls are taught tailoring. We also give them financial support so they can start small businesses such as running a vegetable shop or a bicycle repair workshop.
With the help of SOS Children, families in Begu Sarai have hope for a better future, and vulnerable children are being cared for in a loving home. Will you support our work and sponsor a child today?