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.
Prevalence of urban and rural poverty
Helping out at home (Photo: B.Neeleman)
SOS Children's Village Viet Tri is situated in the centre of Viet Tri City, the capital of Phu Tho Province. Viet Tri City is approximately 80 km north-west of Hanoi and home to an estimated 260,000 people. The city of Viet Tri itself is an industrial centre, where many also work in the service industry.
In spite of various government initiatives, many families in the Phu Tho Province continue to live in poverty. Ethnic minorities and people living in rural areas are particularly affected. They often struggle to meet their basic needs in terms of food. Various sustainable projects have been set up to help these people improve their lives by, for example, increasing the productivity of their land.
However, poverty also exists in urban areas such as Viet Tri City. Here too, families struggle to meet their basic needs; in addition, there is a lack of infrastructure and access to services. Life for poor families and children is full of hardships. The poverty assistance payments do not always reach families who would be entitled to them. Education remains out of reach for many, because although they are not charged fees, they cannot afford the other costs involved (books, transport and uniforms). In addition, it is also difficult for them to access health care.
Human trafficking is a problem throughout Vietnam and the northern province of Phu Tho is no exception. People are trafficked both internally to other cities in Vietnam, but also across the borders to China and further afield.
Providing support to families in need and loving care to children
The social and economic conditions in the area make the work of our organisation particularly important. The provision of education, training and support for young people and children has continued to improve the lives of many in the local area.
What we do in Viet Tri
At the SOS Children's Villages vocational tranining centre ( SOS archives).
If children can no longer live with their families they can find a loving home with one of the SOS mothers - there are 15 SOS families who can care for up to 150 children in Viet Tri.
Young children, including those from the neighbourhood, can attend the SOS Kindergarten. Qualified staff at the kindergarten can look after up to 190 children. The provision of day-care is particularly valued by those parents who go to work because they know their children are being cared for by professionals.
Older children can go to the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School which caters for up to 1,250 children of both primary and secondary level. There is also a canteen where children can eat, thus ensuring they have at least one nutritious meal a day. Children whose families could not otherwise afford to send them to school can get a scholarship.
The SOS Youth Programme gives professional support to young adults while they attend further education or start a vocational training course. The young people are encouraged to develop realistic perspectives for their future, learn to shoulder responsibilities and increasingly make their own decisions. The SOS Vocational Training Centre has classrooms and workshops where trainees can learn different crafts.