SOS Children's Villages in IndiaSOS Children’s Villages for Tibetan children was initiated in 1960 by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, to care for Tibetan child refugees who fled across the Tibetan border after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. To this day, thousands of children make the dangerous journey every year, across the mountains and often without their families.
SOS Children's Villages cares for 11,000 Tibetan children in eight villages (including Dharamsala, the largest SOS Children’s Village in the world) as well as seven schools. The schools are open to all Tibetan children, including those whose parents have survived with them.
The Villages and schools teach the children traditional Tibetan values and culture. They also learn English, and as they live in India, they learn all about the culture of their adopted country. For more information about our work with Indian children in India, please visit our India page.
Our Work in North India for Tibetan children
Mussoorie and 'Happy Valley'
The first permanent SOS Village for Tibetans opened in Mussoorie, northern India, in 1962, and today cares for 900 children. Due to the sheer numbers of vulnerable exile children in the area, Mussoorie’s second children’s village, named ‘Happy Valley’ opened nine years later. Attached to Mussoorie is a school for 1,300 pupils and an SOS Vocational Training Center, where 80 students learn dressmaking, art and handicrafts.
Dharamsala and Leh
Dharamsala, a large town in northern India, was the location for the charity’s next Village due to the high numbers of refugees living there. SOS Children’s Village Leh, in a town north of Dharamsala, opened in 1975 and these two children’s villages are the largest in the world. Each cares for over 2,000 vulnerable children, who receive all the educational and medical care they need to help them overcome their traumas and achieve their potential.
SOS Children’s Village Bylakuppe, which opened in 1982, has 32 family homes, each of which has its own vegetable patch where children can learn how to tend crops and have something nutritious to eat. The SOS School here offers 1,300 pupils a high-quality education.
Bir, located not far from Dharamsala, was chosen as the location for the sixth Tibetan village in India. 700 children and youths live in the 16 family homes and youth homes, and there is an SOS Kindergarten for the younger children.
Due to the continual flood of refugees across the Tibetan border, Golpapur opened in 1998. There are 33 family homes, along with a bakery, grocery store, medical center and a daycare centre. 1,000 older children from the Village and Tibetan community attend the SOS Secondary School in the town.
Our newest Tibetan children’s village, which opened in 1999, is found in Dehradun and cares for 140 vulnerable children in 14 family homes. Alongside the Village and the SOS Primary and Secondary School is an SOS Vocational Training Center. Here, 200 youths, many of whom have missed out on formal education, learn metalwork and/or business and commercial skills.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Tibet: Tashi's Story
Tashi, a teenager from SOS Children’s Village Golpapur, explains how he arrived at the Village: “Through desperation, my parents decided to send me to India in 2000. When I left, it was an evening, and I, with lots of other people, was loaded into a truck. I saw the watering eyes of my mom, who was standing close by - deep inside I wanted to cry but I had to be strong as this is what my mom wanted. We drove for three days non-stop. Then we began to walk on foot over the mountains. It was winter and the chilly breeze was blowing flakes of snow. We had to hide whenever we saw policemen. Since the weather was so cruel, the life of a loving child was ended there; we had a small organized funeral up in the mountains, close to a river, in which we placed the little one. There were many nights of sleep on rocks in the extreme weather and we nearly starved. But we finally reached India, where, at the Children’s Village, I received the bliss of the kind words of the teachers. I could explore my knowledge and grow in the garden of the Village."
SOS Children's Villages for Tibetans Head Office
Tel: +91/1892 220356, +91/1892 221348
Fax: +91/1892 221670