On the morning of 26 December 2004, a tsunami caused by an earthquake with the epicentre near Banda Aceh struck the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean. More than 130,000 people died in Indonesia, even more lost their homes and thousands of children were separated from their parents. The 200 km coast line between the cities of Banda Aceh and Meulaboh was the worst affected area. Meulaboh is the capital of the district of Aceh Barat (West Aceh).
SOS Children's Village Meulaboh is situated at Lapang Village, Cot Nibong Street, about 3.5 km from the city centre and about 6 km from the sea shore. It consists of 15 family houses, the village director's house, a community centre (administration and a medical room), an activity centre (computers, library, music, dance), a multi-purpose hall and different co-workers' residences. SOS Children's Village Meulaboh offers a new home for up to 150 orphaned or abandoned children. Since the people in Aceh Province are 98% Moslems, a mosque was set up at the SOS Children's Village.
Furthermore, there is an SOS Kindergarten with three classes of 30 children each; it is also open to children from the local community. The older children attend public schools, which helps them to grow up just like their friends from outside the SOS Children's Village.
The SOS Social Centre offers family strengthening, health counselling, community support, counselling and psychological support. The programmes are designed to ensure that children have access to essential services, such as education, health services and psycho-social support. Families are assisted with income generation. They also receive help when dealing with the authorities. People's parental skills and awareness of children's rights are improved.
In 2008, an SOS Youth Facility was opened in Meulaboh. Boys usually move from the village to the 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.