Kolkata, West Bengal
In 1977 we began supporting children and families in Kolkata - the capital city of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is one of India's most vibrant cities, and a major commercial, cultural and financial centre.
Despite this, a booming population has resulted in resources being overstretched, with many living in poverty. Children growing up in these conditions struggle to have their needs met, and many fail to access the opportunities that would allow them to have a better life in the future.
Thousands of slums
The expansion of the city is largely due to migration from rural to urban areas. Many move to Kolkata in search of better opportunities. However, like other rapidly growing urban centres, the city suffers from several problems. These include a lack of adequate employment, limited infrastructure (clean water, decent sanitation facilities and electricity) and many live in dilapidated and over-crowded conditions.
With a lack of adequate housing, many resort to living in slums - of which there are thousands in Kolkata. Some of these slums, known as ‘bustees’, are officially recognised and have a few basic services. However, most are unofficial, and tend to be located near railway tracks, roads, canals or rubbish dumps. The majority of people here make a living in the informal sector, and live off a small income. Others sell small goods on the streets or pick through garbage to find rubbish or rags to sell.
In these condition, parents often struggle to scrape together a living, and may find it hard to meet the material and emotional needs of their children. In Kolkata, some children can be found on the streets during the day, trying to earn a income and support their family. These children are very vulnerable as they try to keep safe, healthy and well-nourished. Sadly, they have a high chance of getting sick and being malnourished.
We provide a loving home for children with nothing and noone
One reason why we began working here was that many children fled to the area due to the 1971 war when Bangladesh became an independent state. Without parental care, they needed a loving home and special support. We always work closely with local agencies and community-based organisations. Together we identify children and families in need, and deliver the support they require.
When a child can no longer live with their parents or relatives, we care for them in SOS Children's Village Kolkata. It is located in Bidhannagar, Salt Lake City, east of the city of Kolkata. These children find a home in an SOS family, in the care of an SOS mother.
Attend local nurseries and schools, they continue to grow up as part of their community. When, as young adults, they are ready to leave their SOS families, they join our youth programme, which helps them adjust to independent life and prepares them for employment via skills training and continued education.
SOS Children in the community
A key part of the work that we do in Kolkata is related to supporting families in the nearby community. By providing services such as daycare, we relieve the burden of financial insecurity and enable families to remain together. Workshops provide information on children's rights, hygiene practices and parenting skills.
When times are tough, we make sure families have enough food to feed their children, and support them through critical services such as healthcare, so that children can be protected from disease and malnutrition, and get treatment when they need it. In order for families to generate their own income we offer vocational training and career advice. For example, we have trained people in cattle rearing or embroidery. We also give financial support to help budding entrepreneurs to start small businesses and become self-sufficient.
Our work in Kolkata gives children and families the support they need to live a better life. Will you help us to give hope, and become a child sponsor today?