Bhubaneshwar is the capital of the Indian state of Orissa. Like many cities in India, Bhubaneswar is a city of contrasts and the living standards of the population vary enormously. Although an important economic and cultural centre, poverty levels are very high in the city.
Despite government interventions, the rate of poverty reduction in the state of Orissa has been slower than anywhere else in India. It is estimated that 40% of the urban population live in poverty, with 370 slums in Bhubanewar alone.
Growing urban population
Bhubanewar is a growing city, but the rise in population has not corresponded to an expansion of services. This means for many there is inadequate infrastructure. The pressure on this city is partly due to people moving there to find work. While those with an education may be successful in finding a job in the IT sector, those without an education are vulnerable to ending up living in poverty.
Girls are at particular risk
Children are the first to suffer from poor social and economic situations. Illness is common, due to malnutrition, poor sanitation facilities, and a lack of clean safe water and medical treatment. Many children work to make some money and support their family, rather than going to school. A lack of education is likely to diminish the opportunities available to these children.
Girls are at risk of discrimination, which has an impact upon their chances of being educated and receiving appropriate health care. For example, girls are more likely to drop out of school than boys. Human trafficking is a serious threat, as most victims are young girls who are promised work as domestic servants but are then forced into prostitution.
How are we supporting families in this community?
SOS Children has had support from the local government since it started working in Bhubaneshwar. We work by caring for vulnerable children who can no longer live with their own family in an SOS Children's Village. We also support families in the community, by providing a range of services from our SOS social centre.
Orphaned and abandoned children are raised in an SOS family under the care of an SOS mother. Children attend schools in the local area, making friends with children from neighbouring families. Youngsters join our youth programme as they approach independence, benefiting from skills training and further education.
Help for families in need
At our SOS social centres, we provide families with the support they need to stay together. We provide daycare at the SOS nursery, and deliver workshops on crucial issues such as children's rights, hygiene and parenting. We provide food for families in need, and make sure children are enjoying a high standard of education and healthcare.
Our main aim is to ensure families can provide for themselves through vocational training, career counselling and guidance. Since literacy is low in the area, we also run adult literacy programmes, which are often attended by local mothers.
Through our family support programme, and SOS Children's Village, we support those in need living in Bhubaneshwar. Will you help us continue this life-changing work and sponsor a child today?