Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir
In India's northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir is the city of Jammu. There have been violent clashes in the state due to religious tensions between the Muslim majority and the Hindu minority.
The clashes make life unstable for many families, some of whom have been forced to move away from their home to seek refuge elsewhere. As well as the threat of conflict, many of the population live below face the risks that poverty brings.
Families face many hardships
It's estimated that one fifth of the local population lives below the nationally-established poverty line. While the vast majority of the poor live in rural areas, there is an increasing problem of urban poverty as people move to the city and existing resources get overwhelmed.
It is hard to break the poverty cycle, especially when a lack of skills means it is difficult to find a decent job. Many households live on low incomes, and parents often struggle to meet the needs of their children. So as to contribute to their family's income, children may drop out of school at an early age to work.
Girls and women miss out on education
Girls face disadvantages in this community. They are more likely to drop out of school at an early age, and this is reflected in the vastly lower literacy rate for females. In the city of Jammu, 77.4% of women are literate compared to 89.7% of men. According to the 2011 census there are seven districts in the state where the literacy rate for women is below 50%.
Emergency relief developed into permanent programmes
Prior to the mid-1990s SOS Children already ran several emergency relief projects in Jammu, concentrating mainly on women and children living in refugee camps. Since 1998 we have expanded our services which focus upon meeting the basic needs of local families.
Education is a major concern in the region - there is a poor teacher to pupil ratio, low enrolment rates and high drop-out rates. We also run workshops that aim to elevate the position of women and girls in the region. Working closely with local non-governmental organisations we run activities to raise awareness on issues such as female foeticide and the need to empower girls through education
What is SOS Children doing in Jammu today?
A central part of our focuses on supporting children and families in the community. Our SOS social centres support families through a range of services. In addition to providing day care at the SOS nursery, we raise awareness of hygiene and child rights and give guidance on parenting skills. So that families can generate their own income, we offer vocational training and career advice.
When a child can no longer stay with their biological family, we offer a loving home with one of the SOS families. Here, they are cared for by an SOS mother, and grow up with SOS brothers and sisters. Young children go to the SOS nursery together with children from neighbouring families. Older children from the SOS families as well as from the community, attend an SOS school. Students are given primary and secondary education, so that they can bring change to their family and community.
Young adults who are ready to leave their SOS families can join our SOS youth programme. With the support of professionals they are supported to complete vocational training courses, attend higher education or look for work.
Children, young people, and families in Jammu are supported through tailored services, which give them hope for a better future. Will you make a difference to a child's life, and become a sponsor today?