Life is tough in an ever-expanding metropolis

Two children doing their daily exercises (photo: SOS archives)
Two children doing their daily exercises (photo: SOS archives)

SOS Children’s Village Jorpati is located on the outskirts of Kathmandu and provides care to children with disabilities. Kathmandu is situated in the Himalayas at an altitude of around 1,300 metres in Kathmandu Valley and has a population of just over one million, with 1.7 million living in Kathmandu district.

The region is the economic heart of the country. Whereas once internally displaced people came here by the thousands in search of safety, today the city continues to attract people from impoverished and underdeveloped rural areas in search of opportunity. This rapid population growth has put incredible strain on Kathmandu’s infrastructure and also poses a threat to the ecosystems of the valley. Rivers are becoming polluted due to the lack of sewerage and wastewater treatment systems, which in turn endangers the health of the local population.

Informal settlements characterised by substandard housing and overcrowded conditions are expanding on the outskirts of the city. Land is cheaper here and no building permits are needed, so many migrants buy a plot in these semi-rural areas. Infrastructure such as water supply and sanitation are not available here, nor is road access.

Many parents struggle to meet their children’s needs

When parents struggle to make ends meet, the care they are able to give their children is often inadequate, and when their child has a disability, it can become even harder to meet their needs. Access to treatment and rehabilitation is limited in Nepal and there is little financial assistance available to the parents of children with disabilities. In a country where the majority of the population make a living as small subsistence farmers, annual cash earnings for the average family are very low.

If crops fail, or in case of unexpected medical expenses, families are quickly plunged deeper into poverty. Many children with disabilities do not attend school either, often for financial reasons or because an educational environment with adequate support is not available. Health and emotional problems, illiteracy and social marginalisation are some of the possible consequences for these children.

What we do in Jorpati

SOS mothers provide constant care and support to the children in their care (photo: A. Kumar)
SOS mothers provide constant care and support to the children in their care (photo: A. Kumar)

SOS Children's Village Jorpati is located on the outskirts of the capital, Kathmandu, not far from a second SOS Children's Village in Sanothimi. The village was set up in order to provide a loving home for children with physical and mental disabilities whose families are no longer able to take care of them.

Five SOS families in Jorpati provide all the support, affection and attention the children need. In each family, they live with their brothers and sisters, cared for by their SOS mother. The family homes were specially designed to meet all the children’s needs. The children receive tuition and classes to help them with their learning difficulties and cognitive development, and there is also a therapy room with a small pool for physical therapy in the village.

The children attend our in-house school until they are ready to join the local schools in the area. For children and young people with mental or developmental disabilities, we run a special school programme too, allowing them to learn and grow in their own time and according to their abilities.
SOS Children’s Village Jorpati is run in co-operation with the Nepal Disabled and Blind Association. In addition, the children are treated and taught by specialists at the Kaghenda New Life Centre, which is run by a local organisation and is located near the SOS Children's Village.

Some of the older boys and girls from the SOS Children's Village live at the SOS Youth Facility, which is situated in downtown Kathmandu. Supervised and guided by qualified SOS co-workers, the young people live here while they learn to be independent and make the transition into adulthood. In addition to helping the young adults develop life skills, we also provide programmes to help them with basic communication skills or general information in areas such as mental health and autism.

After the strong earthquake caused widespread damage and suffering, SOS Children’s Villages co-workers from SOS Children’s Village Jorpati offered emergency help – in the form of food, first aid, water and shelter – to local families in need.