Laos is one of the poorest countries in South East Asia. SOS Children's Villages started working near the capital city of Vientiane in 1993. In the following decades, and due to the continuing hardships faced by the people of Laos, our organisation has expanded and adapted its work. SOS Children's Villages now supports children, young people and families in six locations throughout the country.
At present there are six SOS Children's Villages in Laos, five SOS Youth Facilities, six SOS Kindergartens, five SOS Hermann Gmeiner-Schools, one SOS Vocational Training Centre, three SOS-Social Centres and one SOS-Medical Centre.
For years, SOS Children's Villages has been requested to extend its operation to the city of Savannakhet, second largest city and commercial hub of Laos. The city is linked to Thailand by means of a bridge over the Mekong River, which was completed at the end of 2007. Now Savannakhet has become an important trading centre on the road to Thailand and Vietnam. Savannakhet province is the country's largest province. Approximately one fifth of the population of Laos lives there and there is a large number of children without care. HIV/AIDS has become a major problem for the city and the whole province, as more and more children lose their parents due to this disease.
A site on the north highway just a few kilometres from the entrance to the city was donated to SOS Children's Villages by the government. Savannakhet University is situated nearby. SOS Children's Village Savannakhet consists of 13 family homes for up to 130 children, the village director's house, a community house, co-worker residences, a house for the so-called SOS aunts (family helpers or SOS mothers in training who assist the SOS mothers and fill in for them when they are sick or on holiday), a garage and a workshop.
There is an SOS Kindergarten, which can be attended by both children from the SOS Children's Village and children from the neighbourhood. An SOS Social Centre provides day-care for up to 60 children from local families and other family-strengthening programmes according to need. A visiting doctor attends to the children and mothers from the SOS Children's Village as well as to the beneficiaries of the family-strengthening programme.