The high altitude and picturesque surroundings of the Annapurna mountain range make the city of Pokhara a popular destination for tourists and trekkers. However, the region struggles with deep inequality and high levels of poverty.
Our Children's village nearby Gandaki is one of two in the region, the other is in Pokhara itself. It was set up following a devastating landslide in 1978, and continues work to help families and children overcome the social and economic challenges in the region.
Nepalese society is deeply divided along many different lines. Children face discrimination based upon their caste, gender, and social status of their parents, whilst disabled children suffer particularly. When coupled with widespread poverty, this discrimination pushes thousands of families to the margins of society.
The impact that this has on children is deep and shapes their earliest experiences of the world. When parents struggle to deliver the most basic necessities, like food and housing, they are often unable to provide for the psychological and emotional needs of their children.
Children's education is particularly affected, as the costs associated with sending children to school, such as tuition and uniforms, are often too high for poor families. Just as importantly, parents' meagre incomes often mean that children are forced to work to support the family. This work is hard and, they often suffer abuse whilst doing it.
This has profound consequences for children's development. Those who have not received even a basic education and who work in appalling conditions, struggle to achieve their full potential. Overcoming these challenges is, therefore, key to giving children a childhood and a future.
What is SOS Children doing?
Support for vulnerable families
In Gandaki we saw the chance to help poor families overcome the testing conditions they face and support children. Since we began working in the village in 1979, we have continued to expand the services we offer to the village and the surrounding area.
Our family support program identifies and then works with families who are struggling to care for their children. We focus on helping them to provide a safe and healthy home environment that will allow children to attend school. We provide particular support, through a special literacy program, to children who have missed out on education, which helps them catch up with their peers.
We also recognise that helping poor families, particularly mothers, to improve their economic situation is essential to supporting children's development. To help them do this, we host workshops to teach local women income-generating skills and run a day care centre for working parents.
Children who cannot live with their parents are able to find a home with one of the SOS families.
Here, their SOS mother cares for them and their siblings together. Whilst here, they attend the same SOS nursery and SOS school, which offers primary and secondary education. This helps them to integrate with the community and learn valuable social skills for the future.
Once they reach adolescence, these children usually move into the SOS youth home. Here, they complete vocational training or enter higher education, and receive support and guidance to help them start shouldering more responsibility. The skills and perspectives they learn guide them as they make their own way in life.
Lone children in Gandaki are given hope for the future with the support of SOS Children. Will you join their journey to adulthood, and sponsor a child today?