SOS Children's Villages has been working in Greece since 1975. Due to the financial crisis which started in the late 2000s, we have increased our activities in the country. Our eight family strengthening programmes, two youth programmes and four villages providing family-based care, currently support over 2,000 children and adults people. In 2015 we started providing emergency aid to refugee families and children arriving in Greece.
Children who have lost parental care find a new family in SOS Children’s Village Thrace (photo: SOS archives)
SOS Children's Village Thrace is located in Alexandroupolis, in north-eastern Greece and about 750 km from Athens. Because it is very close to the border with Turkey, it is an important port and road route connecting the two countries.
About 70,000 people live in the area. In the past, it has been remote and isolated. In the mid-2000s, it looked like the town would become more prosperous because of the planned oil and gas pipes. But the projects were cancelled; this was especially devastating at a time when the Greek economic crisis was worsening.
Although tourism has always been an important source of income and employment, the number of visitors has fallen in recent years. The unemployment rate is very high and it has affected both young and old.
More children need protection
Recently, the number of children needing protection has increased. In the past most children were taken into care because their families neglected or abused them. Nowadays, poverty is the main reason why children are in care. It is often the parents themselves who give their own children up for care – they are just too poor to be able to feed. The cost of food has risen: families now have to spend an additional €75 per month on food. This is a lot of extra money to find when families are already struggling to make ends meet.
In the past years, SOS Children's Villages has increased our activities in Greece. Our priority is to support families so that they can stay together, but if this is not possible, we look after children in the SOS families.
What we do in Thrace
Through access to education, children will have a chance to improve their lives. (photo: SOS archives)
Family strengthening programmes: We support up to 75 families who are finding it hard to care for their children so that they can stay together. We provide psychological support to parents and children. We also distribute goods which include food, clothes, cleaning materials, and school supplies. We help parents and children access health and social services.
Care in families: Six SOS families provide loving homes for up to 28 children who can no longer live with their parents. In each family, they live with their brothers and sisters and are cared for by their SOS mother. The children attend local schools and are therefore part of the community. We develop an individual development plan for each child. This may include specific support and therapies, depending on their needs.
Day-care for children: We provide day-care for up to 25 local children with disabilities.