Islice is a town in Bauska municipality in the Zengale region in south Latvia. Bauska’s history is fraught with strain after wars, plagues, fires, and the annihilation of Jews during the Holocaust in 1941.
Today, people in Islice suffer from a range of social problems, including unemployment and government corruption. We have been in the area since 1997.
Struggle to take care of basic needs
As part of the Soviet Union, Bauska was a popular tourist destination with impressive architecture, natural beauty, and monuments. Latvia has struggled since independence in 1991; the health system is inefficient and bloated and the many social and economic problems are difficult to address.
The official rate of unemployment in Bauska is nearly 13%. Many people are unable to earn enough to take care of their basic needs. Regular protests happen, but the level of trust in the corrupt government is low.
Caring for the children of Islice
Before the economic crash in 2008, Latvia's economy was growing fast but growth stalled and the country fell into a deep recession. Things have picked up more recently and Latvia joined the eurozone in 2014. However, unemployment remains stubbonly high and many people are dependent on a social welfare system limited by a lack of resources. Many people are leaving the country.
Parents who cannot afford to look after their children are sometimes forced to abandon them or leave them to fend for themselves as they search for work. Some parents who stay at home do not have parenting skills to raise their children well, and there are not enough social workers to go around.
The education of many children is also compromised. There is a significant shortage of teachers and teaching materials and many local officials and parents are lax when it comes to making children go to school.
How do we help communities in Islice?
We started working in Islice in 1997 at a time when there was an increase in the number of distressed families and children. Many of the programmes were implemented to meet urgent needs.
Our Children's Village cares for children who cannot live with their own parents. Here, they grow up in a loving family home with an SOS Mother.
Knowing that unemployment is a big problem in the local area, and Latvia more widely, we run a dedicated youth programme to which equips teenagers who are ready to leave the Village with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the workplace.
SOS Children's Villages has given financial support to the primary school in Islice which the SOS children attend. The schools have been able to buy computers and other, much needed, equipment. A new playground was also installed, and special classes for children with learning or physical disabilities introduced. We are also run many after-school activities in collaboration with the local community partners.
With your support, children in Islice have a bright future. Will you sponsor a child in Latvia today?