“Going by the SOS Children’s Villages founder, Dr Herman Gmeiner’s motto – “A loving home for every child”, SOS India has settled over 5000 once abandoned and parentless children, into the mainstream society. The organisation has impacted about 71,000 children since its inception”, said Mr. Sumanta Kar, Deputy National Director Integrated Child Care, SOS Children’s Villages of India.
To understand the current social and economic situation of the settled youth, including their living conditions, educational and professional attainments, employment status and income, SOS Children’s Villages of India conducted a study, titled – “Tracking Footprints of the Settled Youth”. The study was carried out, with the help of a third party and a sample size of nearly 300 settled youth. The study was released in SOS Children’s Villages of India on the 100th birth anniversary of Dr. Hermann Gmeiner.
The major findings of the study are:
- The respondents covered for the study recognize the hand-holding by SOS India.
- They recognize the contribution of the SOS Mothers, in particular, and other family members in general.
Almost all (93%) said that they could approach their SOS Mother and Village Director for help at any time.
- They are well settled and leading a dignified life. 54% of the settled youth were married and most of them (70%) had children. 72% of the settled youth were very satisfied with their marriages.
- 71% of the settled youth had completed their graduation or above. The proportion of those with university education was slightly higher among the females than the males.
- 86% of the respondents were employed. The remaining were girls who got married and were looking after the family.
- While 55% of the respondents were drawing a monthly salary ranging from Rs. 20000 – 50000, 3% of the respondents were drawing a monthly salary of more than Rs. 50000.
Kar said, “SOS India, being the largest programme in the world, has impacted the lives of 71,000 children in 22 states through its two programmes, viz., SOS Family Care Programme and Family Strengthening Programme. With the study – ‘Tracking Footprints of the Settled Youth’, the organisation further establishes their credibility as a responsible child care organisation.”
The deplorable fact is that India is home to over 20 million parentless and abandoned children. This figure is projected to increase to 24 million by 2021, which means, such children, if left unattended, are unlikely to reach their actual potential, and can be a burden on the country instead of contributing to its progress. Thus, protecting the needs and rights of such children, is paramount.
Dr. Gmeiner felt very strongly that the children in need of care and protection deserve to be brought up with love, care, support of a mother and protection of a family as well as the community. Going by his words in spirit, the SOS Children’s Villages’ continues its mission to nurture abandoned and parentless children with love, respect, security and dignity in a home-like environment with a caring “Mother” and framework of sibling relationships, providing them emotional security for a lifetime.
According to Kar, “In India, where a staggering number of children are in need of care and protection, group foster care models like the one provided by the SOS Children’s Villages of India, must be looked up to.”
Further, he added, “Right from day one, the loving home-like environment at our SOS Children’s Villages persistently contributes towards the social, emotional, physical and educational needs of children, brought under our care of our organisation. As time passes and they grow, they are offered guidance, professional education, and skills to become independent. Even the study concludes that – ‘The children are now undoubtedly in the mainstream society’”.