In September 1993, a terrible earthquake hit the central Indian state of Maharashtra. Dozens of villages were destroyed within seconds. Many children in this region were left without parents. Co-workers of SOS Children's Villages arrived in the area within days and immediately started giving emergency aid to as many children as possible. At first, the children were accommodated in rented buildings. It only took a year to erect a new SOS Children's Village in the northern part of the city of Latur, which had been at the epicentre of the quake.
SOS Children's Village Latur consists of twelve family houses, staff accommodation, a multi-purpose hall and the necessary administration and service area.
There is an SOS Kindergarten, which is open to children from the neighbourhood as well. In 1997, an SOS Youth Facility was opened at Latur. 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.
At the SOS Social Centre, local people are counselled in health matters. Children of working mothers from the nearby villages are taken care of during the day and receive a hot lunch. Since the mothers have to work in order to be able to raise their children, it is very important for them to have a day-care facility at hand. At the sick bay of the SOS Children's Village, people from the neighbourhood are treated as well.
In 2003, SOS Children's Villages India launched its family strengthening programmes in Latur. These programmes 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 Latur family strengthening programme 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 programme also aims at raising awareness of hygiene and child rights and improving people's parenting skills.