The deadly surge of COVID-19 cases in India has had devastating effects on families, leaving many children vulnerable as their parents become ill or have died due to the pandemic.
Working together with local authorities, SOS Children’s Villages India has opened its doors to those who are in need of care and protection. We are providing short-term and long-term care to children from underserved communities whose families have been affected by the pandemic.
Children whose parents are COVID-19 positive and are undergoing treatment can be placed under short-term care until their parents or caregivers recover. Children who have lost their parents and have no one to look after them can be placed in our family-like care programs in any of the SOS Children’s Villages across 22 states in India.
Last year, 21 children whose parents died of COVID-19 were cared for at SOS Children’s Villages India. Eighteen were reunited with their relatives and three remained with SOS Children’s Villages. “We’ll be playing the same role in the second wave,” says Shekhar Malakar, assistant director of SOS Children’s Village, Khajuri Kalan, Bhopal. "We’ll take care of the orphans of the pandemic.”
During the second wave of the pandemic in India, so far 55 children have been brought to SOS Children’s Villages India. Thirteen of them require short-term care and the remaining 42 might need long-term care. At present, SOS Children’s Villages India can care for around 1,000 children under short-term care and between 300 to 400 children under long-term care
One of these children SOS has provided a safe, nurturing environment to is Sakshi* who is just six years old. She lived with her mother in Faridabad since the death of her father a couple of years ago.
When her mother died during the latest surge in COVID-19, she had no where to go. The local child welfare authorities decided she should join SOS Children’s Village Faridabad so she could live with the care of an SOS mother and new siblings.
Staff at the SOS Children’s Village have noticed that Sakshi has been so brave in dealing with all the changes in her life and has adapted well to her new home.
The new SOS family she lives with provides a sense of safety and security to help her overcome the trauma of losing her mother. “Our mothers are trained in taking care of such children. They use innovative models to help children overcome trauma and settle in a safe environment,” said Sumanta Kar, secretary general for SOS Children’s Villages India.
SOS Children’s Villages India is also helping to support vulnerable families impacted by COVID-19 in the community. SOS has been distributing personal hygiene and safety supplies, running free ambulance services for COVID-19 patients, providing livelihood support to over 350 caregivers and extending monetary support to families so that they can get back on their feet.
SOS teams are helping to provide medical care and other services, including COVID-19 vaccination drives that encourage people to get vaccinated, medical support, food supplies for affected families and community kitchens. Additionally, SOS is ensuring that children and young people can continue to learn by providing educational support like tablets and tutors.
*name changed to protect the privacy of the child
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