New Delhi: SOS Children’s Villages of India, an international NGO dedicated to the holistic development of children without parental care and those at the risk of abandonment supported more than 24,000 Indian children and youth with a loving home in FY 2019-20, according to its just released annual report. The organisation also supported 15,000 children during disaster and emergencies and 2,000 youth from underprivileged background for employability. In addition, 8,000 vulnerable families were given support through the SOS Family Strengthening Program (FSP).
Mr Sumanta Kar, Senior Deputy National Director, SOS Children’s Villages of India shares: “Our unique ‘Family-like Care’ model offers personalised care to children by a trained caregiver, called an SOS Mother, Siblings, Family and a community (the Village). This is what sets us apart from other childcare organisations. Children in an SOS Children’s Village are raised with all the inputs needed for their safety, development, participation and path to independence. But most importantly, they develop a strong emotional relationship with their SOS Mother and siblings with whom they stay in the same house for many years. The lasting bonds contribute to a much better physical and mental growth and hence holistic development outcomes for children.”
In FY 2019-20, a total of 6,685 children continued to live and grow up in 32 SOS Children’s Villages spread across the country. Also, 548 new children without parental care were brought to the Villages to a loving SOS Mother. (Interestingly, 25% of siblings in SOS Children’s Villages are biological siblings and are kept together in the same family, just as they would have in their own biological families.) More than 4,600 SOS children continued to attend regular school during the year. About 200 girls and 151 boys graduated from Class 10th, while 146 girls and 121 boys graduated from Class 12th in academic year 2019-20. Also, 1,275 youth (54% girls) under the care of SOS CV India opted for higher education. As many as 180 SOS Children (46% of them girls) also got employment during the year (their first-ever job).
Additionally, 318 youth living in SOS Children’s Villages (54% of them girls) were successfully integrated into the mainstream society, with an average monthly salary of Rs 18,407. The organisation also supported 370 youth for enrollment in higher education and professional courses.
Said Mr Sumanta Kar, Senior Deputy National Director, SOS Children’s Villages of India: “Our Family Strengthening Programme (FSP) supports vulnerable families, including of migrants and single-women-headed households, to ensure their economic empowerment. It helps keep biological families together by improving access to education, health and nutrition for their children. Over the last one year, we supported 17,920 children, half of whom were girls, through this programme, who continued to live with their own families. We also managed to reach 3,862 new children for support. Over 13,000 children from vulnerable families were provided support to attend regular school. Hearteningly, 4,347 families enrolled in FSP saw an average of 132% increase in their income compared to the previous year. Also, more than 1,000 women from vulnerable families were supported by SOS CV India to set up their own businesses.”
As part of its Disadvantaged Youth Skilling Programme, SOS Children’s Villages enrolled 1,200 youth from disadvantaged background at government affiliated skill development institutes. About 375 of them successfully managed to complete their course. A total of 283 of these youth (46% girls) got the first job of their lives in the organised sector, with an average monthly salary of Rs 7,700.
Over the year, SOS CV India also continued to work with 470 children (60% girls) across 32 Children’s Villages who have some form of disability. The SOS Children’s Village Khajuri Kalan in Bhopal is a dedicated Village for children with special needs. It is currently supporting 105 children with diverse needs, specifically those living with Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, Autism and Multiple Disabilities.
Talking about the disaster and emergency response of SOS Children’s Villages in the year 2019-29, Mr Kar said: “Children are the first to be affected when a crisis hits. Our teams managed to provide safe, supervised spaces for children during the devastation caused by the Fani cyclone in Odisha and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Focusing on long-term recovery, we were able to directly reach more than 15,000 children and 7,820 vulnerable families with assistance and support. In the aftermath of cyclone Fani, our Children’s Village in Bhubaneshwar supported affected families with basic necessities, tarpaulin, food packets and hygiene kits, quickly restoring normalcy for over 600 families and 1,100 children.”
He further added, “We are a self-implementing organisation and depend on our partners for technical and financial support – the government and the corporate sector, civil society, media as well as individuals. We endeavor to efficiently manage our programmes, minimising the administrative expenditures in order to optimise the outcomes in terms of impact on the beneficiaries.
We are immensely grateful to our donors and sponsors for their long standing support and confidence in us. Millions of vulnerable children in India are leading a life of neglect, and to change the future of our country, we together need to ensure that we together ensure that not even a single child is left neglected – #nochildalone. We call upon greater collaboration to achieve this.”
Over the year, SOS Children’s Villages entered strategic collaborations with the Gujarat government for rolling out a Kinship Programme for 104 children under the Palak Mata-Pita Yojana, with the Maharashtra Govt for preparing 102 children from Child Care Institutions for employability, and with the Government of Chattisgarh for building capacities of care functionaries for parenting, supporting children dealing with trauma and instituting child safeguarding mechanisms. Along with the Niti Ayog and Duke University, SOS Children’s Villages also conducted a survey of 60 childcare institutions in four states to gauge the gaps in care delivery for children.