SOS Children's Villages has been working in Battonya since 1986. Battonya was the first SOS Children's Village in what was then a communist country which was not state-owned, but was entirely subsidised by the private SOS Children's Village Association.
What we do in Battonya
The SOS Children's Village is centrally located only one kilometre from the town hall of Battonya. Children who have lost parental care can find a loving home in one of the 13 SOS families. Each family has an SOS mother who provides a stable and loving home to the children in her care. The children attend the public kindergarten and local schools, and thus have many friends in the neighbourhood and become part of the wider community. After school the children attend different clubs where they learn crafts or practise their folk dancing.
As the children grow up and become ready to move out of the SOS families they can move into the SOS Youth Programme in Szeged which is less than 70 kilometres away. They can live here while they attend further education, receive training or start their working lives. With the help of professionals the young people are encouraged to develop perspectives for their future, learn to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions.
Life is hard for families living in eastern Hungary
Battonya is a small rural town with approximately 7,000 inhabitants, situated in south-eastern Hungary, very close to the border with Romania, which means that there are many Romanians living in the town.
Due to the fertility of the soil, agriculture and the processing of agricultural goods (fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat) have traditionally been very important in providing a living for the local population. More recently, investment has been made to attract tourists to the natural landscape and the thermal spas of the area.
The unemployment rate in Battonya is above the country's average, with many families struggling to make ends meet. This has led to migration out of Battonya, with people moving to more prosperous areas of Hungary or abroad. The recent political and economic changes have meant cuts in the money dedicated to helping vulnerable Hungarians.
The situation for young people trying to make an independent start in life is particularly bad due to the high unemployment rate and the shortage of affordable housing.
Providing family-based care for children and support to young people
Hungary has undergone many changes since SOS Children's Villages started working in the country. Throughout the decades we have adapted our activities to meet the needs of the population. At a time of economic crisis and cuts in the welfare system, our work with vulnerable children and young adults who have lost parental care is as important today as when we started working here in the late 1980s.