Children are particularly vulnerable during humanitarian emergencies. In such situations, we put the protection of children and their families at the center of our actions.
SOS Children’s Villages of India has always moved deftly to answer the call of the children in need in many natural and man-made disasters. Be it the communal riots in Assam, the gas leak tragedy in Bhopal, earthquakes in Latur, Uttarkashi, Gujarat & Kashmir, terrorism in Kashmir and Punjab, the hurricane in coastal Andhra Pradesh, and Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, all these tragedies involved massive destruction and deaths.
Children are the worst sufferers of unfortunate events whether natural or human-made. Due to their vulnerability they lose homes, parents and families. All of these outcomes leave a deep trauma on their fragile minds and put them to risk of various social evils such as trafficking, organ selling or the like. Historically, SOS Children’s Villages of India has undertaken emergency relief work and rehabilitation programmes to ensure that children are safe and are restored to best suited care including alternative. Several of our Children’s Villages are a result of our disaster and emergency response, not limited to creating a village but also responding to prevention and rehabilitation work in local communities.
In SOS India supported 15,000 children during emergencies and disasters in 2019. We reached out to children and their communities during major disasters in the past, including earthquakes of Latur (Maharashtra, 1993) and Bhuj (2001), Tsunami (southern coast -2004) , Cyclone Fani (2019) and more recently Amphan, Nisagra, Nivar and Burevi, and COVID-19 (2020).
As a response to COVID-19, we focused on safeguarding SOS children (over 6,500) who live in Children’s Villages by safeguarding their health and emotional well-being as well as ensuring that they continue to get an education using digital means. We also looked after children (over 17,500) of the vulnerable communities, where we run our Family Strengthening Programme –the outreach programme that prevents ‘at risk’ children from losing parental care by securing and upholding family incomes sustainably by empowering women. During lockdown, we supplied essential food and hygiene kits to them. We are now working on the restoration of lost livelihoods or developing alternative livelihoods through capacity building and skilling. We also ensure that the children of vulnerable families continue to get digital education and activity based learning.