Kecskemét is a small town 80km south east of Budapest, Hungary's capital. It has a population of around 113,000 people, and the surrounding area is sometimes called 'The Garden of Hungary', because of its fertile soil.
Traditionally the area was a big producer of fruit, vegetables and meat, and this employed many people in the area. However, political decisions made in the 1990s have eroded some of these industries, and, despite the opening of a new Mercedes factory, it remains difficult for many people to find work.
Recent economic crisis in Hungary has pushed the government to cut funding to many key areas in the country. This has affected single parent families and those with three or more children particularly badly.
The withdrawal of funds has left many children living in poverty. These children are much more likely to drop out of school, so combating these wider social problems is important for helping them fulfil their full potential.
Children in institutions
When children lose the care of the parents, for whatever reason, they are often put into state care institutions. Whilst the staff here work hard to look after these children, it is no substitution for a loving family environment.
At the moment all young people in Hungary are finding it hard to achieve independence, but those who have grown up in care find it particularly difficult. They often face discrimination and find it extremely hard to get work or somewhere affordable to live. Tackling these issues represents a key challenge in Kecskemét.
What is SOS Children's Villages doing?
We started working in Kecskemét in 1990 and a lot has changed since then. We have continued to collaborate with local communities and authorities to ensure that all children in the area get the chance to fulfil their potential.
New loving homes
For children who can no longer stay with their parents or relatives there are 14 SOS families in Kecskemét where they can find a loving home. Here, they are able to live with their siblings and are cared for by their SOS mother. These children all attend local schools and are encouraged to go to after school clubs to learn skills, such as local crafts and folk dancing. This helps them to make friends and integrate with the local community, which is important for their healthy development.
SOS Social Centres
Our two SOS social centres in Kecskemét provide care and accommodation for children and young people in crisis situations. These children are able to stay in the SOS family home for up to a year whilst we find a more permanent solution.
Youth supported to independence
Young people in care often need particular help to take their first independent steps. The SOS youth programme gives them this support, as well as a roof over their head, whilst they make their transition into adulthood.
As part of the programme young people move to accommodation in Lajosmizse, 17km from Kecskemét, and are advised by qualified counsellors. They are able to undertake further training or education and begin shouldering increased responsibility.
For young people who entered care at older ages, there is special support to help them adjust to life in the SOS youth programme and get the most out of it.
Children growing up in SOS families in Kecskemét are given hope for a bright future. You can be the one giving hope by sponsoring a child today.