SOS Children's Villages became active in West Java in 1972. Lembang was the first location in Indonesia where we started to support vulnerable children in need. In the decades since, our organisation has increased its activities, and is considered an important advocate of children's rights in the country.
Inequality is increasing
Ready to go to school! (photo: SOS archives).
The city of Lembang is in West Java, about ten kilometres from the provincial capital, Bandung. There are around 220,000 inhabitants living in Lembang. Nearby Bandung on the other hand is one of the biggest cities in Indonesia, with an estimated three million inhabitants.
The area is a popular tourist destination due to its natural sites and cool climate. The area around Lembang is very fertile and agriculture is the main way in which people make a living. Very often the products are then sold on the streets and markets of Lembang.
The level of unemployment, however, remains high. Those with a low level of education, women and young people find it hardest to get a job. In addition, much of the work that is on offer is informal, seasonal and badly paid. In the recent past there has been an increase in inequality between people - while some segments of the population have benefited from the more favourable economic situation, many remain trapped in the cycle of poverty. Many such families are living in very precarious conditions, and basic infrastructure is often missing. Children growing up in these circumstances are very vulnerable, since they are exposed to illnesses associated with malnutrition and poor sanitation facilities. Some parents here do not manage to provide their children with the amount and type of food they require. 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 support they need
SOS Children's Villages started working in Indonesia in the early 1970s. The country has experienced many changes in the decades since, and our activities have increased over time in order to reach a growing number of vulnerable families and children. Our most recent family strengthening programmes are adapted to the needs of the local population.
What we do in Lembang
Children can play oustide in a safe environment (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 Centres in Lembang and Yogyakarta offer counselling in various fields, community support and psychological 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. We also provide families in need with medical and dental treatment. The SOS Vocational Training Centre runs courses on carpentry, metal work and computer literacy. In addition, the SOS Kindergarten provides day care for up to 60 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 13 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 can attend the SOS primary school, which provides them with a sound education and helps them become part of the local community.
When young people are ready to move out of the SOS families they join our SOS Youth Programme when they start vocational training or go on to higher education. With the support of qualified professionals, the young people develop perspectives for their future, learn to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions.