The cornerstone of SOS Children's Village Visakhapatnam (also Vishakhapatnam) was laid in 1996 after a devastating cyclone had hit the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in December 1995 and left scores of children homeless and without parents. The SOS Children's Village is located about 30 km from the city of Visakhapatnam at a town called Bheemunipatnam. The area around the SOS Children's Village is prone to drought and economically not very well developed. In the town of Bheemunipatnam, there are some missionary schools as well as private and state schools. Not far from the SOS Children's Village, there is a market. In the city of Visakhapatnam, there are secondary schools and other training institutions. There is a state-run hospital and several private clinics.
SOS Children's Village Visakhapatnam consists of 14 family houses, staff accommodation and the necessary administration and service area. It has its own playground, where the children can romp around and have fun, and a multi-purpose hall. The medical staff of the sick bay provides basic medical care not only to the inhabitants of the SOS Children's Village but also to people from the neighbourhood.
In 2005, an SOS Youth Facility was opened at Visakhapatnam. 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 2004, SOS Children's Villages India launched its family strengthening programmes in Visakhapatnam. 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 Visakhapatnam 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.