SOS Children's Village Varanasi

Children playing in Varanasi, IndiaSOS Children's Village Varanasi was opened in 1985. Varanasi is situated in the Indian state with the largest population, Uttar Pradesh. The SOS Children's Village is located in a rural area about 25 km from the city of Varanasi, which is a holy place for Hindus. There is a Hindu temple underneath ancient banyan trees on the premises of the SOS Children's Village. SOS Children's Village Varanasi consists of 18 family homes, staff accommodation, a multi-purpose hall and the necessary administration and service area.

The smaller children attend the SOS Kindergarten, which is also open to children from local families. The SOS sick bay provides basic medical care for the inhabitants of the SOS Children's Village and the people who live near by. On the site of the SOS Children's Village, there is also an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School. It is a secondary school, which is attended not only by children from the SOS Children's Village but also by children from the neighbourhood. The school has 21 classrooms and a playground.

In 1993, an SOS Youth Facility was opened. It consists of two SOS Youth Houses and several rented flats, depending on how much space is needed. 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 programmes in Varanasi. 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 Varanasi 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.