SOS Children's Villages became active on the island of Flores in 1992 when it launched an emergency relief programme after an earthquake and tsunami affected the area. This temporary measure to reach families and children in need then developed into a series of more permanent programmes which aim to increase the rights of children in the area.
Flores is poor, even by Indonesian standards
Thanks to our loving care these two friends are able to laugh like children again (photo: B. Neeleman)
SOS Children's Village Flores is located on the outskirts of the town of Maumere on the island of Flores. Maumere is the largest town on the island, which has around 1.8 million inhabitants (2010 est.). Flores was once a Portuguese colony, and the majority of the population is Catholic.
This island is amongst the poorest regions of Indonesia. Traditionally, agriculture and fishing were important sources of income and employment. The increase in tourism has led to some improvements, but many areas, especially in more rural zones, continue to lack basic infrastructure - good roads, water, sanitation, as well as services such as health care and education. Nearly half of the population has no clean water and around 33 per cent has no access to health care. As a result of these challenging conditions, many young workers leave the island in search of work in other areas of Indonesia or abroad. The remittances they send back are an important source of income for family members who stay behind.
In an area which remains predominantly agricultural, people's lives are dependent on a reliable harvest. Many families here struggle to make a living and it is often the children who suffer most. Children growing up in these circumstances are very vulnerable. Some parents here do not manage to provide their children with the amount and variety of food they require, and an estimated 38 per cent are malnourished. Other parents manage to meet the basic needs but can only dream of sending their children to school. These social and economic conditions have a huge impact on family life, and many fall apart, leaving children without parental care.
Providing families with the long-term support they need
SOS Children's Villages decided to start working in Flores after the devastating earthquake of December 1992, which left many children without parental care. An estimated 2,500 people were killed and much of the housing and infrastructure was badly affected or completely destroyed.
What we do in Flores
Mother and daughter from our family strengthening programme (photo: SOS archives)
In 2005, SOS Children's Villages Indonesia launched its first family strengthening programmes. Working with local authorities, we aim to support families at risk of abandoning their children and to encourage them to stay together. The SOS Social Centre in Maumere offers counselling and community support. The programmes are designed to ensure that children have access to essential services, such as education, health care and psycho-social therapy. Families are given food or assisted with income generation, and they receive help when dealing with the authorities. By attending workshops and self-help groups people's parental skills and awareness of children's rights are improved. In addition, the SOS Kindergarten provides day care for up to 90 children. To parents who have to earn a living it is very important to have professional day care for their children, so that they are not forced to leave them unattended while they are at work.
For children whose families can no longer take care of them SOS Children's Villages provides a loving home in one of the 15 SOS families, where they grow up with their brothers and sisters and are cared for by an SOS mother. These children can attend the SOS Kindergarten, where they are taught together with children from local families. Older children attend the local schools, which helps them become part of the local community.
When young people are ready to move out of the SOS families they can join our SOS Youth Programme when they start vocational training or go on to higher education. With the support of qualified workers, the young people learn to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions.