At present there are thirteen SOS Children's Villages, ten SOS Youth Facilities, eleven SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools, twelve SOS Kindergartens, two SOS Vocational Training Centres, five SOS Social Centres (Family Strengthening Programmes) and one SOS Medical Centre.
Vietnam was one of the very first countries outside of Europe where SOS Children's Villages started supporting children, young people and families in 1967.
Although the organisation had to stop working in the country in 1976, after years of negotiations, its activities could once again be continued in 1987. The lack of support and suitable accommodation for the large number of children without parental care led to a significant growth in the organisation.
Families are struggling to provide emotional and material support to their children
The SOS Kindergarten provides children with a good start in life (photo: B. Neeleman)
Thai Binh is situated on the coast in northern Vietnam, just over 100 km from Hanoi. About two million people live in the province, with over 200,000 living in Thai Binh itself.
The social and economic situation of the area has recently improved; however, not everybody has benefited from these changes. Children in particular continue to face a number of challenges.
Many children live in inappropriate housing, with no access to sanitation facilities or safe drinking water. In addition, many children are malnourished and this makes them more vulnerable to illness. When children become unwell, it is often hard for them to get good and affordable medical attention.
Many children can only dream of getting an education. There is a shortage of schools and well-trained teachers. According to experts, the educational system needs to be modernised, so that children are able to find jobs when they leave school. In an area where around 9.5 per cent of the population lives in poor households, many children have to go to work. Children are often forced to work in bad conditions and an increasing number end up living on the streets.
Providing loving homes to children who have lost parental care
In spite of governmental efforts, many children continue to suffer. Children who have lost parental care very often have nobody to turn to; this is where the support we provide plays an important role. The children who arrive at SOS Children's Village Thai Binh live in a family-like environment; they grow up with their SOS brothers and sisters and are looked after by their SOS mother.
What we do in Thai Binh
Providing children with an education is an important aspect of our work in Vietnam (photo: B. Neeleman)
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting vulnerable families and children in Thai Binh since 2013.
Strengthen families: SOS Children's Villages works closely with the local community in order to strengthen families who are at risk of breaking down. In addition to advocating for the rights of children, we also provide support to parents so that children can attend kindergarten and school. Most of the families we support work as day labourers; their economic situation is precarious as they are hired and paid by the day. Other children who we assist are living with their grandparents or extended families.
Care for children who have lost parental care: If children can no longer live with their families, they can find a loving home with one of the SOS mothers. There are 14 SOS families, who can care for up to 140 children. Every child has a "Child Development Plan" which is prepared in consultation with the child and the SOS mother. The children attend the local schools alongside children from the neighbourhood: this way they make friends and become part of the community.
Education: Young children from the SOS Children's Village and from local families can attend the SOS Kindergarten. Qualified staff at the kindergarten look after up to 180 children. The provision of early education day-care is particularly important because of the lack of such services in the area. Our kindergarten provides the children with a strong foundation in life.