While the thought of living in an unsafe world and the thought of passing on insecurities as a legacy to our children sends shivers down the spine, I wonder how many of us stop to think and act upon, as we go about the endless responsibilities and duties of everyday life. Furthermore how many of us think of the homeless abandoned child?
The day moves on, your life moves on. You are now sitting in the confines of your comfy car, when little Puja in her torn clothes and greased face, comes knocking on the car window, begging for alms. You feel sorry but the sudden sound of whatapp message distracts you. The signal turns green. Your life once again moves on.
Thank god!! Puja is saved! Thank God, she was not dragged inside. Thank God for she is back to the street.
Puja, like many of her friends Kamla, Pappu & Karan, is a homeless abandoned child, she lives on and off the streets, but deserves a family and home where she can be brought up in a healthy and safe environment.
It is estimated worldwide that close to 140 million children are orphans of whom 13.8 million children have lost one or both parents. (UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2015).Every child has the right to a fair chance in life. But around the world, millions of children are trapped in an inter generational cycle of disadvantage that endangers their futures – and the future of their societies.
In India, more than 20 million children are either orphans or abandoned and have no one to call their own, they deserve a home, and given such a context, it is not hard to imagine that the need for adequate and holistic care for such children is huge in India.
SOS Villages of India which has been tirelessly working towards the holistic development of abandoned children. It is a resort to such children who do not have a family of their own.
Dr. Hermann Gmeiner, the founder of SOS Children’s Villages, saw the suffering and isolation of countless abandoned, homeless children. He decided to help children in need, children who had lost their homes, and ensure them security and a family. This very determination led to the foundation of SOS Children’s Villages.
Dr. Hermann Gmeiner visited India in 1963 and the first SOS Children’s Village of India was established in 1964 at Greenfields in Faridabad in the outskirts of Delhi. Since its inception in 1964 to this date, the village is working for the welfare and betterment of children.
Today, there are 32 SOS Children’s Villages, 122 allied projects like Kindergartens, Hermann Gmeiner Schools, Social and Medical Centres, Vocational Training Centres and Outreach Initiatives spread across the country.
In the year 2015-16, over 25,000 children directly benefited through SOS India’s Falgship program; Family Based Care and Family Strengthening Program.
The FSP model over the last one year has directly benefited over 17,000 children. The FBC reaches out to over 6,500 girls and boys in 32 children’s village across India.
Each village has 12-15 family homes with every home consisting 10 children as an average along with a SOS mother. This program runs in slums and rural areas within 30 km radius of an SOS Children’s Village. Children of the most vulnerable lot i.e. below poverty line, children of widows and single mother are taken care of under this initiative
SOS India works in partnership and cooperation with local authorities and stakeholders as well as in collaboration with other charities on the ground to prevent crisis and to empower families, thus, preventing child abandonment.
Over 1,00,000 children and young adults have benefited through the education program offered via Hermann Gmeiner Schools, Nursing Colleges, Teacher’ Training Institutes and Vocational Training Centres. Furthermore, help is extended by means of SOS Medical Centres and SOS Emergency Relief Program.
The SOS Model of care is unique and extends beyond providing the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. A parent less child is provided a loving home and a family which consists of a Mother, who cares for the siblings with whom ties are for life.
It’s important to mention here that every child is provided the best of quality care in a safe and nurturing environment till the age of 25.
SOS mother builds a close relationship with every child entrusted to her, and provides the security, love and stability that each child needs. As a child-care professional, she lives together with her children, guides their development, and runs her household independently. She recognizes and respects each child’s family background, cultural roots and religion. She takes care of the children with love.
SOS India, gives an opportunity and a meaningful childhood to the parent less children and also to those children who are at risk of losing parental care
For Mala, life has been a roller coaster. When she turned 6, her mother died of an illness. She had the responsibility of looking after her brother and ailing grandfather was on her after her father left them all alone. Mala’s grandfather brought them to SOS Children’s Village Bhimtal.
Mala says, “We were fearful at the prospect of living away from our biological family. But my SOS mother Ganga greeted me and my brother lovingly. She gave me a warm hug and introduced me to my new SOS brothers and sisters. I felt at home after a long time and started crying but this time it was with joy. We were a total of eight brothers and sisters in the family. My own brother was also in the same house.
One of my first memories is about my mother feeding me rice and dal.
My SOS mother was a caring and loving person. She could somehow feel the trauma I had been through. She would spend long hours with me, telling stories and encouraging me. Gradually, I started opening up and began interacting with other children in the village. Over the years I started doing well at my school. It was surely because of the motivation on my mother’s part and the help I got from my SOS brothers and sisters. In the year 2002, I passed class 12 and went to Nainital for higher education.”
Mala, today works with Axis Bank as an Assistant Manager in Rudarpur. She indeed feels indebted and thankful to SOS Children’s Villages for giving her a loving home and a bright future.
Sheeja, who is interning at BIOCON, as a data analyst was brought to the Children’s Village at a young age. She found solace and love in the arms of her SOS Mother, who gave her assurance from the very first day that there was no looking back from this point.
“I can still recall the moment when I first came to the Village. I looked around and saw beautiful playground with swings, but there was a strange feeling, maybe because of being at a new place. I saw a lady approaching me with familiarity as if she knew me already, she was my Mother! I shared the same connection with my brothers and sisters when I entered my new home.” Says Sheeja.
The state and central government of India has acknowledged the works done by SOS Village of India, as a result of which the organization has won many awards. From winning the award of best work done in child care to outstanding contribution to social welfare the NGO has a long list of awards
The organization has bagged CRISIL (Credit Rating Information Service of India), rating of VO-2A which indicates the organization’s Strong delivery capability.
CREDIBILITY ALLIANCE awarded an accreditation certificate for ‘desirable norms’ to SOS Children’s Villages of India.
Apart from this, SOS Children’s Villages of India has been certified by TRACE which commercial transparency, allowing SOS to serve as a valued business partner to multinational companies.
Anuja Bansal, Secretary General of SOS India says, “SOS India has been working tirelessly to ensure that parentless and abandoned children do not grow up alone and their lives are transformed by its specialised long-term care programme or preventive short-term care programme.. Constant training and capacity building of care givers and child care practitioners is imperative to keep them abreast of emerging needs and methods of helping children and also dealing with difficult situations and stress management.”
A model like SOS Villages of India needs not only government but support from people as well. In the current arrangement, if everyone including government, civil society organisations, volunteers, welfare committees, and care institutions and homes, work together in a coordinated way, much can be done to protect the rights of the children in need of care and protection and a healthy environment to them can be ensured.
Written bySOS India