Vilnius is Lithuania's capital and its economic, political and cultural heart. It is located in the country's south-east, which is home to a diverse ethnic mix including Russians and Poles.
Ordinary families took a severe hit when the economic crisis pushed the cost of living up. Many of those already on the breadline were pushed over the edge.
A hub for economic migrants
Vilnius is economically important and home to a number of major industries. Food production and processing is a significant provider of employment, alongside the timber and chemical trades.
A relative abundance of employment opportunities has encouraged people from poorer parts of Lithuania to migrate to and settle in Vilnius. Consequently, the city and its surrounds maintain their status as the largest regional contributor of the nation's gross domestic product.
Poverty and substance abuse force children from home
Plentiful employment and the capital's relative prosperity have not saved ordinary families from hardship, particularly in recent times. The economic crisis has forced prices up, leaving some struggling to afford basic necessities. The hardest hit cannot afford to care for their children, and this is where organisations such as SOS Children's Villages step in.
Drugs or alcohol are a big problem among deprived families, and this often leads to neglect or even physical abuse for children. In some cases, parents simply cannot afford to look after their children due to unemployment, poor housing, or because they have been forced to move abroad in search of work.
What are we doing?
Offering a home to the most vulnerable
Unemployment, inadequate housing and substance abuse mean that some families aren't able to provide the best environment for their children. When this happens, we provide a home in an SOS family. SOS mothers are there to provide every child with the best possible upbringing, offering love, care and affection to help the most vulnerable children realise their potential.
We offer uniquely tailored support to each and every child. Our child development specialists spend time with the child and their SOS mother in order to learn what they need to flourish and how we can best provide that. As children near adulthood, we invite them to join our SOS youth home, where they learn essential life skills and prepare for the responsibilities and challenges of living independently. When you sponsor a child, you can be sure that they are getting top quality care adapted to them and their individual needs.
Keeping families together
SOS families are fun, happy places to grow up. However, we do all we can to prevent children leaving their parents before welcoming them into the care of an SOS mother.
We help children fulfil their social and academic potential by enabling them to attend nursery and later school. We also work to make sure they receive the very best healthcare, especially where malnutrition is a risk. We offer support to parents to help them build a secure and stable environment to raise their children, through financial assistance and practical guidance.
By encouraging leisure activities, we enable families to come together and build on their sense of community spirit. This helps create long-lasting ties and community support networks which encourage families to support one another at times of stress and strain.
Helping communities come together
We used to run a nursery in Vilnius. Here, children received daycare, enabling mothers and fathers to go out to work to make a living. In 2012, however, we were able to hand over control to the local authority, meaning the nursery is now truly in the hands of the community.
We also offer support in Alytus, a city about 60 miles outside Vilnius. Like any other big city, it has its share of struggling families, and we ensure that the most vulnerable children get the support they need to get the most out of life.
With poverty on the rise in the wake of the economic crisis, growing up in Vilnius can be tough. Supporters like you are there to give vulnerable children a helping hand. Please help by sponsoring a child.