SOS Children's Villages has been present in India since 1964 and has continued to grow ever since. In times of emergency, our organisation has responded with emergency relief programmes. In many cases, these developed into permanent programmes which offered support to the local people. At present SOS Children's Villages supports children, young people and families throughout India.
An increasing number of people living in slums
Happy to be able to go to school (photo: D. Sansoni).
SOS Children's Village Faridabad is situated near the city of New Delhi. Faridabad has about 1.7 million inhabitants and plays a central role in the region’s economy, producing agricultural goods and machinery. In recent years some governmental offices have moved out of Delhi and into Faridabad.
Throughout India, people from rural areas are migrating to urban areas in search of a better life. Faridabad is no exception, due to its thriving economy and location near the capital city. However, the city's infrastructure has not been able to keep up with this development; because no affordable housing was available, the newly arrived migrants created their own settlements wherever they found space, and using whatever materials were at hand.
In spite of some governmental measures to create housing and improve infrastructure, sprawling slums are becoming a problem in Faridabad. According to some estimates, around 46 per cent of the population lives in such informal settlements. There is a limited sanitation system and electricity and safe drinking water are in short supply. Access to other services such as health care and education is also scarce.
Children growing up in poverty have a high incidence of sickness and malnutrition. Most of these children cannot afford to go to school as they need to go out on the streets during the day, in order to scrape together some money to contribute to the family income. Many are at risk of losing parental care. Others have been forced to leave their family homes permanently and now live on the streets. All of these children are very vulnerable as they struggle to keep safe, healthy and well-nourished.
Working closely with the community, aiming for self-sufficiency
Due to the conditions of deprivation in which they live, the local community has always been very supportive of our work. We work in close partnership with the local authorities and community-based organisations in order to identify families who are in need of support from our family-strengthening programme. One of our central aims is to ensure that children go to school.
What we do in Faridabad
Two children from our family strengthening programme take their homework very seriously (photo: SOS archives).
A central part of the work that SOS Children's Villages carries out in Faridabad supports children and families. Our SOS Social Centres run a family strengthening programme which offers a comprehensive package of services to enable families to stay together. In addition to providing day-care, we aim to raise awareness of hygiene and children's rights, and we give guidance on parenting skills. We provide families with food, educational support and medical advice, vaccinations and treatment. In order for families to generate income, we offer them literacy classes, vocational training, career counselling and advice. If self-help groups do not exist, we enable their creation. Families we have been working with are now able to generate an income through rearing cattle or selling vegetables.
If children can no longer stay with their parents, they can find a loving home with one of the five SOS families, where they grow up with their sisters and brothers and are cared for by an SOS mother. The SOS school educates children at both primary and secondary level and since 1990 there is a special section for commercial and technical training.
Young people attending higher education or receiving further training can join the SOS Youth Programmes. With the support of qualified staff, they are encouraged to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions. The economic boom in the area has made the job market more competitive, so it is important that we give young adults an adequate professional or technical training so that they can find a job.
At Faridabad, there is also a training centre for SOS mothers and co-workers as well as a home for retired SOS mothers.