On 29 October 1999, a cyclone devastated the province of Orissa. The storm reached a maximum speed of 300 kmh. Heavy rains and up to 15-metre-high waves flooded villages and towns along the eastern coast of India. About five million houses were completely destroyed. SOS Children's Villages India immediately started an emergency-relief programme with the focus on medical aid for people living in the disaster area. By January 2000, SOS Children's Villages had provided accommodation to 190 children from the area hit by the cyclone. Sixteen children who had lost both parents were admitted to existing families at SOS Children's Village Bhubaneshwar. For the others, staff quarters had to be converted into family flats. SOS Children's Villages tried hard to find any living relatives of these children or place them in foster families. However, it soon became clear that most children would have to stay with SOS Children's Villages. Therefore the local government provided a piece of land for the construction of a new SOS Children's Village at Rourkela.
SOS Children's Village Rourkela consists of 15 family homes, a multi-purpose hall, staff accommodation and the necessary administration and service area. It has its own playground where the children can romp around and have fun. There is a kindergarten, which is open to children from the local community for day care. In two group rooms, up to 60 children can be taken care of.
In 2004, SOS Children's Villages India launched its family strengthening programmes in Rourkela. 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 Rourkela 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.
Since April 2006, an SOS Social Centre has been under construction. It consists of two big halls and two small rooms. The social centre will be a multi-purpose facility for vocational training, self-help group meetings, workshops and seminars for beneficiaries of the family strengthening programme. Besides, five community centres are under construction in five villages around the SOS Children's Village for running community based family strengthening programs in partnership with local women's groups.
2007 saw the opening of an SOS Youth Facility at Rourkela. 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.