Köszeg is a small town with a population of 11,800 situated near to the Austrian border in western Hungary. It is a very old town, and its well preserved historical heritage makes it a popular tourist destination.
Besides tourism, wine making is the other main source of employment in the area. Traditionally many inhabitants of the region worked in agriculture and forestry, but this has declined since independence from the Soviet Union.
The impact of economic crisis
The recent economic crisis has had a serious direct impact on Köszeg. This has been further compounded by cuts to welfare programmes that have particularly affected single parent families and those with three or more children.
This crisis has put many families under a great deal of strain, and it is the children and young people who have been worst affected. They often do not get the opportunities they deserve to achieve their full potential.
The worst affected
As is often the case, it is the children without parental care that face the greatest challenges. These children often face severe discrimination and most end up in institutional care facilities, which cannot provide the same care and attention as a loving family.
This effects the life chances of children throughout Köszeg, and elsewhere in Hungary. As they grow up these young people often struggle to find god jobs and affordable places to live. Providing a nurturing environment in early life is key to combating these later challenges.
How are we helping?
We started working in Köszeg in 1993, and since that time we have had to adapt to rapid changes in the area and the rest of Hungary. We remain as committed to giving every child the right start as we were when we first started, over 20 years ago.
Cared for by SOS mothers
Children who can no longer live with their parents can find a loving home with an SOS family in Köszeg. They are cared for by their SOS mother and attend local schools, where they can make friends with children from the community.
Our summer camps also give these children the chance to take a holiday, and older children are able to go to the international SOS summer camp with children from SOS families around the world. This time away gives older children a taste of independence, which is important as they grow up.
When they are old enough, children from SOS families can move into accommodation that is provided for them by the SOS youth programme in Szombathely, the county capital. Here, they are supported by professional counsellors as they make the transition into adulthood.
They are able to attend further education as well as receive training in a range of vocational skills. This support helps them to shoulder increasing responsibility and take their first fully independent steps after leaving the programme.
Vulnerable children and families in Köszeg are uplifted by our work. You can be part of what we achieve by sponsoring a child today.