Bhopal, Madhaya Pradesh
SOS Children has been working in Bhopal since 1987, three years after the devastating poison gas accident in the city. When the SOS Children's Village first opened, many of the children who were taken into our care came from families who were affected by the Bhopal disaster.
They are not the only children in this part of India who need help, where urban poverty rates are among the highest in the country.
The world's worst industrial disaster
In 1984, a pesticide plant in Bhopal leaked toxic gases, which killed thousands. Many more became sick due to gas-poisoning related diseases, and suffered with chronic health problems and disabling injuries. Many babies were born with birth defects due to the Bhopal disaster, even after many generations.
A region suffering from poverty
Bhopal is the capital of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Around 1.9 million people live in the city, with 55% Hindu and 40% Muslim. While urban areas in Madhya Pradesh grow, life in rural areas is becoming increasingly difficult. This means many move to the city in search of more opportunities. However, urban life can be hard, and many remain on social and economic margins. Urban slums are common, and many do not have access to safe drinking water. As a result diseases such as diarrhoea are common, and children are most vulnerable.
Children growing up in extreme poverty are at high risk of losing their parents. Many families struggle to make ends meet and it is often a struggle to provide even the basics for their children. Many children do not go to school because parents can't afford it, and instead work to raise the family income.
SOS Children in Bhopal
We support children and families in Bhopal in two ways.
Firstly, when a child can no longer stay with their own family, they can find a loving home with an SOS family. Here, they grow up with SOS brothers and sisters and are cared for by an SOS mother. Due to the Bhopal disaster, some children in our care require special therapies and we ensure that they are provided.
Our SOS School provides primary education to children from our Village as well as the surrounding community. Young people ready to leave their SOS families can join our youth programmes, where we support them as they undertake skills training, attend higher education or search for employment.
The second way we support people in Bhopal is by providing services for families in the community. Working with local authorities, our family support programmes helps families to stay together and take good care of their children. We try to raise awareness of hygiene, children's rights and positive parenting skills. We provide families with food, as well as educational support and medical treatment. In order for parents to earn a living we offer them vocational training, career counselling and advice on how to look for a job.
SOS Children supports the community in Bhopal, who continue to endure the consequences of the industrial disaster. Will you help vulnerable children and families in Bhopal, and sponsor a child today?