Siedlce is a city of 76,000 people situated in Mosavia province in eastern Poland, near the border with Belarus.
Despite a gradual rise in living standards since independence from the Soviet Union in 1989, many people in the country's east struggle to find work and often live in poverty. Consequently, many children grow up in extreme hardship.
Economic growth brings mixed blessings
Siedlce is situated some 55 miles east of Warsaw, near the Poland-Belarus border. The main industry in Siedlce is machinery and manufacture of building materials, whilst tourism is a growing income source in the local area.
As Siedlce is located near to Warsaw, the capital’s economic growth has benefitted the local community, and the poverty rates are some of the lowest in the nation. Despite this, social inequality is a rising problem: whilst some families are reasonably affluent, many struggle to support their children.
A hard start for many
Many children across the region live in poverty and it is hard for them to access education and healthcare. This is particularly an issue in rural areas, where social infrastructure is poorly funded. In the east of Poland, unemployment rates are higher than in other regions of the country, and deprivation combined with a lack of social infrastructure has left many families below the poverty line. Struggling families often turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with the pressures of living in poverty, and along with domestic abuse, this results in the neglecting of children, and in some cases, abandonment.
Educational provisions in Siedlce are scarce and it is hard for children to break out of poverty. Several don’t attend nursery school, and further education opportunities are limited. Furthermore, children with disabilities are not catered for by the government and therefore it is hard for them to thrive and boost their chances of a successful future.
What are we doing to help?
With conditions hard in cities such as Siedlce, our presence is vital. Recent laws have attempted to support families in need. However, children from challenging backgrounds are often taken away from their parents and placed in old-fashioned orphanages ill-equipped to provide the love and care they need.
With institutional support so poor, the family care we offer at Siedlce is vital to ensure the region's most vulnerable children get a decent start in life. Each child at our Children's Village is part of a loving SOS family, growing up in with their brothers and sisters in the care of a devoted SOS mother.
The Village is located in a beautifully wooded area on the outskirts of the city. While enjoying this freshness and open space, the children also attend local schools in Siedlce, allowing them to grow up as part of the community. When they leave school, they move on to the SOS youth home, which provides them with a fantastic introduction to independent adult life as they undertake higher education or vocational training. We are there for every child right up to adulthood, and continue to support them as they settle into the next stage of their lives.
You can help give Poland's most vulnerable children a decent start in life. Please give monthly and make a difference to young lives across the country.