Guwahati is in the north east of India, in Assam state. The city has expanded drastically in the past few decades, and is a key trade and commercial hub. This has put pressure on infrastructure, including access to clean water.
Despite some developments, poverty still affects many people in Assam, which is one of India's poorest. Since 1988, SOS Children has been supporting families and children in Guwahati.
Urbanisation - a trend across India
Many of those living in rural parts of Assam have difficulty making a living, and move to Guwahati in search of better opportunities. This has resulted in spontaneous urban expansion and the emergence of shanty towns. According to some estimates over 10% of the Guwahati population lives in slums.
Children at risk - especially girls
High unemployment and poverty levels negatively affect families, and particularly endanger women and children. Gender inequality continues to be an issue in the region. For example, although the average literacy rate in the Guwahati is 78%, there are significant differences between male literacy rates (81%) and female literacy (74%). Among the poorest families, children of both sexes are often taken out of school so they can work and support the family. Overall however, it is common for girls to leave school earlier than boys.
Human trafficking is a big problem here. The most vulnerable are women and girls, and many end up working as prostitutes or are exploited as domestic workers.
SOS Children giving hope in Guwahati
We always work in close partnership with local organisations to deliver the services that are needed by children and families in need. Guwahati was the third location in Assam where we started working. We support the community in two main ways.
Firstly, we support children and families close to where our organisation is based. Our family support programme offers a range of services to help families stay together and take good care of their children. This includes raising awareness of hygiene, children's rights and positive parenting skills. We also provide families in need with food, and offer educational support and medical treatment. So that parents can generate an income we offer vocational training, career counselling and advice on how to search for a job. Some women in Guwahati have been trained in tailoring, goat and pig rearing, and others have opened small shops.
Secondly, when a child can not stay with their own family, they can find a loving home with one of the SOS families. Here, they will grow up with their SOS brothers and sisters, and together they are looked after by an SOS mother.
Young adults who are ready to leave their SOS families can join our SOS youth programme. With professional support, they are guided through this new stage of their lives. Many undertake skills training or higher education while others look for work.
With the help of SOS Children, vulnerable children and families in Guwahati are getting the support they need to live a flourishing life. Will you get involved, and sponsor a child today?