India has more than 30 million children in need of care and protection, compromising the rights of a child, and enhancing the child’s vulnerability(source UNICEF). This was said, ahead of SOS Day, by Mr. Sumanta Kar, Secretary General, SOS Children’s Villages of India, during a media workshop on “Strengthening families – Preventing Child Abandonment”. SOS Day is observed on the birth anniversary of the Founder, SOS Children’s Villages of India, Dr. Hermann Gmeiner.
While addressing the media, Mr. Sumanta Kar, Secretary General, SOS Children’s Villages of India, said “There are many factors that lead to child abandonment, few being: financial distress, social challenges, ill-health, substance abuse, gender disparities, etc. We witnessed loss of jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic, bringing vulnerable families under amplified pressure. Basic rights, including education, health and nutrition were also compromised. Prolonged lockdowns also resulted in a spike in child abuse and abandonment cases. Strengthening families is an essential preventive measure to ensure that each child receives care and support from their families in order to ensure wholesome child development, reducing the risk of abandonment. This includes generation of awareness on important subjects like health, hygiene, nutrition, education, child safeguarding and protection, among other such important topics. Besides this, capacity building and income generation activities are paramount. When incomes are supplemented, and awareness enhanced, it empowers caregivers, and subsequently communities. Under our Family Strengthening Programme, we work with families and communities to help them build their capacities so that children are taken care of, and their overall development does not get hampered, thereby reducing the risk of abandonment.”
Across 31 locations in India, SOS Children’s Villages of India, India’s largest self-implementing childcare NGO, supported over 17,300 families and 31,671 children as of March 2022 through their Family Strengthening Programme.
Children belonging to vulnerable families are often at risk of child abuse, being abandoned or losing parental care. The organisation recognizes such families and individuals, strengthening their financial stability by providing them livelihood support, skilling courses and financial literacy. This helps the families adapt to any changes and help them find employment to generate sustainable income. While building their capacities, children are provided and cared for. So that their basic rights to health, nutrition, education, and skilling, are secured, helping them better future life chances to overcome financial distraught and become self-reliant. Bal Panchayats or Children’s Parliaments enable children to find solutions to pressing challenges, ensuring cultivation of leadership and critical thinking skills.
Introduced in 2006, the Family Strengthening Programme of SOS Children’s Villages of India aims at supporting over 70,000 children by the year 2030.