Even before the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in 2004, the people of Meulaboh were struggling with prolonged conflict in the area.
This was the area worst affected, by a disaster that claimed the lives of over 130,000 Indonesians.
Despite the best efforts of government, living standards in Meulaboh remain below the national average, which has ramifications for the life chances of the children and young people there.
Struggles with unemployment
The area has a much higher rate of unemployment than is normal in Indonesia. This has a major impact on families where parents struggle to find work, with single mothers facing particularly tough challenges.
When parents struggle to make ends meet, children's needs for care and attention are often neglected. Even more worrying, large numbers of children are forced by necessity to leave school and take up paid employment, affecting their opportunities in the long term.
Living after a disaster
The 2004 tsunami caused extreme suffering, cost the lives of thousands, and destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands more. The long term impact of this destruction is particularly clear in the challenges faced by children who are separated from their parents.
The instability that this separation causes is enormously damaging to children's development. Even when these children can be returned to their families, they continue to need support to help them deal with the trauma they have faced.
What is SOS Children doing in Meulaboh?
We started working in Meulaboh immediately following the tsunami. We were directly involved in providing relief to people affected, and we are now focusing on tackling the long term challenges that people throughout the region face.
We played a very special role in the relief efforts that followed the disaster in 2004. We cared for and worked to reunite traumatised children with their relatives, and collaborated with local people to rebuild over 500 homes and community centres.
Strengthening local families
Our family strengthening programme assists families that are struggling and at risk of abandoning their children. Our social centres in Gampong Cot and Suak Raya offer a range of essential services to children, as well as advice and counselling to parents.
We also provide practical support to families, such as workshops to teach parents income generating skills and day care services that give parents a safe place to leave children whilst they work. This programme has helped families throughout the region stay together and thrive.
Loving family home
SOS families in our Children's Village Meulaboh offer loving homes to children who can no longer stay with their parents. These children are cared for, along with their siblings, by their SOS mother and are given every chance to succeed.
They attend the SOS nursery before moving on to local schools where they can make friends with other children. We work closely with teachers in the area to ensure that they are able to quickly fit in and make the most of their education.
SOS Youth Programme
When they are old enough, children from SOS families are able to join the SOS youth programme. Here, they are supported by qualified counsellors as they undertake further training or education and make the transition into adulthood.
You can be a hero to a child living in an SOS family by becoming their sponsor. Regular updates mean you can watch them grow up, and see how your support is helping them to flourish.