A family from Darkhan in MongoliaDarkhan in northern Mongolia is one of the largest cities in the country, with a population of around 75,000. It was founded in 1961, with a large amount of funding coming from the Soviet Union, and is still a relatively young city.

Darkhan was built as an industrial centre to help ease some of the pressure on Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar. However, it now also struggles with high levels of migration, which is stretching services to breaking point.

'Ger' living

Though most families in Darkhan live in residential apartments around the city, many others still live in 'gers' - large circular tents - on the city's outskirts. Though most know how to read and write, the level of education amongst ger residents is still generally below the national average.

These areas often have no access to running water or sanitation and a high proportion of residents are unemployed or rely on casual labour. This has exacerbated other social problems, such as alcoholism and crime, all of which disproportionately affect children.

Soviet collapse

Having been largely built through funding from the Soviet Union, Darkhan has suffered a great deal since its collapse at the end of the Cold War. During the period after the collapse, many state-run factories in the area relocated to Russia while others simply went bankrupt.

Though industrial production remains the most important sector in Darkhan, the Soviet collapse has meant that the unemployment rates in Darkhan is above those in other Mongolian cities. This impacts on the lives of many families, who struggle to give their children everything they need to flourish.

What is SOS Children doing?

Photo time in the spacious grounds of the SOS Village in Darkhan, MongoliaWe began working in Darkhan in 2008 in response to the needs of orphaned and homeless children there. It is part of our effort to ensure all children in Mongolia get the best start in life.

A caring environment

Children in Darkhan who cannot live with their parents or relatives can find a loving home with one of the SOS families in our SOS Children's Village. Here they are cared for by their SOS mother and are able to continue living with their brothers and sisters.

These children attend the local nurseries and schools, which helps them to make friends and learn important social skills. As they grow up, they enter the SOS youth programme, where they are supported as they undertake higher education or vocational training and take their first independent steps.

Working with the community

We work closely with other organisations and local authorities to raise awareness about children's rights. Developing this wider understanding is an important part of giving all children the opportunities they deserve throughout their lives.

We also work closely with the local community to host a range of fun events and cultural activities, which help children understand and respect their heritage. These events also provide an opportunity for the whole community to come together and are an important part of the children's development.

We ensure no child need go without a loving family during their critical early years. Whether by supporting fragile families in the community or offering a home in an SOS family, we are there for Darkhan's most vulnerable children. You can help by sponsoring a child.


In Africa, children orphaned by AIDS can find a loving home and family in an SOS Children’s Village.