Families across the world are more vulnerable today than ever before. Adverse circumstances like poverty, armed conflict and disease present overwhelming challenges for parents and threaten family stability.
When families are at risk of falling apart, children are at a much greater risk of being abandoned, and left vulnerable to the many dangers that threaten the lives and welfare of children on their own.
Building strong families is at the heart of everything we do. At SOS Children’s Villages, our Family Strengthening Programs empower families to endure and overcome hardships — to keep struggling families together and vulnerable children safe.
In partnership with governments, NGOs and other relief organizations, we build effective community support systems and open access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities. These efforts help build strong, self-sustaining families, and stable environments for children.
Access to nutritional and health care support to help keep children and families healthy.
Assistance with school fees, uniforms and materials so children have the opportunity to learn.
Trainings in parenting and household management skills to help parents provide better care for their children.
Job skills and income generating support to help families establish a sustainable livelihood.
At age 68, Nester was struggling to raise six grandsons on the money she earned plowing fields and selling firewood. Often, it was not enough to feed and clothe the boys, or to cover their school tuition — even with government assistance.
When the SOS Village in Siteki, Swaziland was established in 2009, Nester’s family became one of more than 100 at-risk households in its Family Strengthening Program.
SOS worked with Nester and her family to develop a long-term plan for self-sufficiency, which included short-term financial relief to cover the cost of keeping the boys in school. Nester also received training to become part of a farming cooperative, which provides a sustainable source of income that supports her family.
Today, Nester and the boys are thriving. Her oldest grandson, Alex, has completed college and teaches at a secondary school in Siteki. His income helps support his grandmother, his brother and his four cousins.
Abandonment is not uncommon for children born in Swaziland. Numerous challenges, including poverty and HIV/AIDS, have left thousands of children orphaned, or left in the care of elderly relatives who struggle to provide for them.
Cleo is one of the many people in Greece affected by the country’s economic crisis. Her family was on the verge of homelessness for many years and could not afford medical care. Cleo and her husband separated not too long ago because of the burden placed on them by the economy.
Today Cleo works as a house cleaner only one day a week. She makes just 20 dollars a week and the weak economy makes it almost impossible for her to find a steadier job.
Cleo has one son, 12 year old Nicolas, who suffers from dyslexia and obesity. The economic crisis has made obesity a big problem for children in Greece because many families cannot afford nutritious food. Nicolas has gone without care for his dyslexia for many years because of the family's economic situation.
Cleo represents one of the 1,150 families receiving support from the SOS Social Center in Piraeus. She works with an SOS social worker who helps her find public assistance such as welfare and free dental care. Additionally, Nicolas works with a psychologist and special education teacher to help him cope with his dyslexia.
Nirmala, a 6 year old girl, lost her mother to an earthquake in Nepal. Her mother died instantly, but emergency workers found Nirmala in the rubble and she survived with minor injuries. Nirmala’s grandmother, Bhagawati, wanted to help her son, Nirmala’s father, raise her and her siblings. Bhagawati did not know how she was going to support the children. Neither she nor her son, made enough money to support them. According to Bhagawati, Nirmala’s mother had done everything to fulfill the family’s needs.
The children and Bhagawati met aid workers from SOS on the day they were burying their mother. Nirmala’s family is one of the 1,000 at-risk families selected for the SOS Kinship Care Program, which is focused on providing families with what they need to start rebuilding their lives.
Bhagawati received money and other forms of support from the program. Today, Nirmala and her siblings are attending school.
Marie-Ange Billy is the president of the SOS Canaan Community Center in Haiti. In 2009, Marie-Ange and her husband had become unable to provide for their children. Unemployed, they had no income to pay school fees or buy food. This led to Marie-Ange taking her youngest children to the SOS Canaan Community Center which gave her time to focus on making money.
Today, Marie-Ange is not only the president of that community center, but also studying to be a teacher as well. Her goal is to empower women in Haiti.
"Our life has greatly improved as a result of the program. I am now hopeful that one day I will be able to face life without the help of SOS Children's Villages. I can see us getting there"
Nester Grandmother and SOS beneficiary
“SOS has given me 6,000 rupees for the children. Because of that money, I have been able to live comfortably and buy milk for the children and it helps me raise them. Except for the baby, all of them go to school now.”
Bhagawati Grandmother and SOS beneficiary
“SOS’s support has helped me take control of my situation. I feel empowered to try and improve my situation however I can.”
Cleo Mother and SOS beneficiary
“After I brought my two youngest children to the community center where they had free education, I was able to focus on problem solving and my next steps. I saved some money to send my older kids to school.”
Marie-Ange Mother, SOS beneficiary & President of SOS Canaan Community Center
Download our informational fact sheet to learn more about our Family Strengthening Programs around the world.
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