The city of Latur is located in India's welathiest state, Maharashtra. Together with many of the surrounding villages, Latur was all but destroyed in the 1993 earthquake. After helping with the initial relief effort, SOS Children became a permanent presence in Latur the following year.
The state of Maharashtra is the richest in India, contributing 13.3% of India's GDP in 2006-7. The economy of Latur itself is largely based on industry and services, although the surrounding area relies heavily on traditional sectors such as agriculture, with soya beans and sugar playing a significant role.
Poverty within a thriving economy
Despite the economic success of the wider region, Latur is afflicted by many social problems. Attracted by the relative wealth of the state, many people migrate to the area in search of prosperity. Between 2001 and 2011, when the last census was carried out, Latur's population increased by 18%. Yet poverty is widespread, and many migrants fail to find the success they are seeking; ending up instead in Latur's slums.
Growing up in Latur
With poverty come many other social problems. The literacy rate in Latur is startlingly low at 79%, and HIV/AIDS are among the highest in the country. Estimates suggest that around 25,000 children in Latur are living with the disease. To this day, much social stigma is attached to HIV/AIDS, and children suffering from the illness often face discrimination.
SOS Children's work in Latur
In September 1993, an earthquake struck Maharashtra. Although it measured only 6.3 on the Richter scale, it wrought terrible loss of life. Many buildings were poorly constructed and, because the quake struck in the middle of the night, most people were at asleep at the time. Tragically, 30,000 people died, many of whom were killed in their beds when their houses collapsed around them. A year later, SOS Children was a permanent presence in Latur.
Helping families in the years since
In the aftermath of the quake, we provided emergency relief to people affected by the disaster. By 1994, we were able to offer ongoing support to people in the community. Our focus is the prevention of child abandonment through the alleviation of poverty.
We do this by giving families the tools they need to properly care for their children. We work with parents to raise awareness of the importance of hygiene - particularly in slum conditions - and child rights. We also offer childcare to allow parents time to go out and work to support their families.
A new home for lone children
As well as working in the community, we provide a new home to children who are unable to grow up with their families. Some have no family at all, while others have previously been living with relatives who are simply cannot look after them properly, either because they are too old, or because they lack the means to do so. We place these children in a loving family, ensure they get a good education and provide ongoing support as they grow up.
Thanks to SOS Children, many children in Latur have found a home when no one else could care for them. Thanks to us, families on the brink of collapse have stayed together.