Situated in the spectacular Indus Valley, the town of Leh was once the capital of the kingdom of Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Though beautiful, Ladakh is known for its harsh climate and terrain.
The Ladakh area is often known as “Little Tibet” due to the significant influence of Tibetan culture, and most people in Leh are Tibetan Buddhists. Many children are sent to Ladakh from Tibet by their parents, and we provide a loving home for the most vulnerable at our SOS Children's Village.
A people in exile
In 1969, Tibetan refugees established the Sonamling Tibetan community in Leh. At the time, it was home to just over 900 refugees. Two generations on, over 5,000 call Sonamling home. Although many were born and raised here, children still arrive from Tibet, sent by their parents, who see this as the only way their children can receive a proper Tibetan upbringing.
Although land was given to families when they first settled here, the rising population means that space is at a premium. Jobs too are hard to come by. Although the Indian government promotes the region as a key tourist attraction, there is still not enough work to go around. On top of this, many refugees still suffer the effects of the brutality they experienced before fleeing Tibet.
Helping the Tibetan children of Leh
Leh was home to our first SOS Children's Village for Tibetan refugees in India, and we first began caring for children in 1975.
Today, we support Tibetans throughout the area, providing long-term support to help them cope with the adverse conditions many continue to experience. Our SOS medical centre is open to the whole community, providing healthcare to children from struggling families. Staff at our SOS vocational training centre help equip Tibetans with the skills they need to succeed in the local job markets. We also offer daycare at our SOS nursery.
Central to our work in Leh is long-term care for children without families. Some are orphans, but many have parents back in Tibet or in other locations throughout India. All are offered a loving home at the SOS Children's Village, where we provide a family and a mother for every child. Alongside care, we provide all a child needs to thrive, including quality preschool, primary and secondary education to help them flourish in later life.
In Leh, supporters like you provide opportunities for children left vulnerable by exile. Please help by sponsoring a child.