Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. As a major commercial and cultural centre, Chennai is India's fourth largest city.
Despite signs of prosperity, it is estimated that 8.7% of the population are poor, as defined with national criteria. The growing population of the city is placing increasing pressure on the existing infrastructure and leaving many with inadequate services.
Children growing up in poverty
Many people in Chennai live in informal settlements, where they have little access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health services or schools. Due to families struggling to make a living, the physical and emotional development of their children growing up in these circumstances often suffers. So that they can contribute to the family income, a child may work or beg, meaning that they miss out on school.
Children are also vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Chennai is reputed to be one of India's leading human trafficking hubs.
Girls particularly at risk
Due to traditional norms, girls and women frequently suffer discrimination. Girls are more likely to be abandoned by their parents, and a higher proportion of girls leave school early. Consequently,
there is a substantial gap between male literacy, which stands at 94%, and female, at 87%.
Chennai after the tsunami
We began our activities in Chennai since 1979, so when the area around Chennai was devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, SOS Children provided support straight away. We provided emergency relief to families who had been affected, and continue to provide services to meet their needs.
How does SOS Children support vulnerable children Chennai?
Our work in Chennai is varied, and supports vulnerable children and families in the community. We work closely with local authorities to deliver these services, and are sensitive to local customs and traditions.
When a child can no longer stay with their family, they can find a loving home with a SOS family in the SOS Children's Village. Here, they grow up with SOS brothers and sisters, who are cared fro by an SOS mother. The families grow vegetables in the nearby gardens, providing them with fresh food.
School-age children attend our SOS Primary School, which provides education for the whole community. When young adults are ready to leave their SOS families, they join our SOS youth programme. Here they are supported by professionals to start vocational training courses, attend higher education and look for work.
SOS in the community
A key part of our work in Chennai is run through our SOS Social Centres, where a family support programme offers a range of service for local families. This support is particularly welcomed by households headed by single mothers. As well as providing daycare at our SOS Nursery, we aim to raise awareness of children's rights and offer help and advice on parenting. We provide families with food, as well as educational and medical support. So as to help families earn a living, we offer vocational training, career counselling and advice. For example, people we have been working with now generate income by making paper or selling milk.
In 1983, we opened an SOS Medical Centre. Each year, we provide medical treatment and counselling to about 30,000 people in the local community, as well as raising awareness about birth control and HIV/AIDS. We organise medical camps for nearby communities which lack their own health facilities or where cost prevents access.
SOS Children supports children and families in Chennai through a range of services which meet their individual needs. How can you help? Sponsor a child today.