SOS Children's Village Bhimtal

Children on tricycles in Bhimtal, IndiaSOS Children's Village Bhimtal was built on the former property of a Maharaja, around 300 km north of New Delhi, in the foothills of the Himalaya mountains. Bhimtal derives its name from the big lake on which it is located: "Bhim" means big, "tal" means lake. SOS Children's Village Bhimtal is situated in a beautiful wooded landscape with many hills and lakes. Because of its beautiful surroundings, it is used as a holiday camp for children from the other Indian SOS Children's Villages. SOS Children's Village Bhimtal consists of twelve family houses, a multi-purpose hall, staff accommodation and the necessary administration and service area. There is also a playground where the children can romp around and have fun.

Since there were no schools anywhere near this SOS Children's Village, an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School was opened in 1986. A separate building to house a primary school was added in 1994. This building also serves as a training centre for SOS Children's Village co-workers from all parts of India. The school includes an SOS Kindergarten. Both kindergarten and school are open to children from the local community. The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School is a co-educational school, which is partly run as a boarding school. There are more than 40 teachers. Subjects taught include English, Hindi, Maths, Sciences and the ancient language of India, Sanskrit. The school is equipped with a library, a gym, a language laboratory, chemistry and physics laboratories, computers, workshops, a dance studio, a drawing room and a music room. The school offers classes from kindergarten up to the 12th form (A level). 

Children playing in Bhimtal, IndiaIn 1997, an SOS Youth Facility was opened. Young people usually move from the SOS Children's Village to an SOS Youth Facility when they start a vocational training course or go on to higher education. With the support of qualified youth workers, the young people develop realistic perspectives for their future, learn to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions. They are encouraged to develop team spirit and build up contacts with relatives and friends, as well as with the relevant authorities and potential employers.

In 2003, SOS Children's Villages India launched its family strengthening programs in Bhimtal. These programs are intended to support families at risk of abandoning their children and to encourage families to stay together. SOS Children's Villages therefore works with local authorities and other service providers to support families and enable them to take good care of their children. The Bhimtal family strengthening program provides nutritional, educational and health support as well as vocational training, career counselling sessions and job placement support. Families are linked with existing self-help groups; if there is no group, a new one is formed. The program also aims at raising awareness of hygiene and child rights and improving people's parenting skills.