SOS Children’s Villages supports and empowers individual children, young people and families so that they can thrive (photo: SOS Children’s Villages India).

Chennai, previously called Madras, is a city located in the Tamil Nadu state in South East India. With a population of around 10 million, it is the sixth biggest city in India. It is one of the fastest growing Indian cities, thanks to the automobile, the health and the finance sectors. However, despite the city flourishing, around 40% of the population lives in poverty, and many live in slums at the border of the city. Chennai is also prone to natural disasters, and all these issues have a negative impact on vulnerable children.

Since 1979, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Chennai.

Cyclones on average in India per year

Children are vulnerable to disasters

The state of Tamil Nadu, where Chennai is located, was devastated by the tsunami of 2004, and again by floods in 2015 and 2021. They destroyed lives, families, and houses. On average, three tropical cyclones make landfall in India each year, and the cases of natural disasters are only increasing, due to climate change. Children are most vulnerable to these natural disasters, losing their homes and families. In addition, the city of Chennai is the second biggest polluter of plastic in India – plastic blocks drains and sewers, so that the flood water is trapped in the streets with nowhere to go.

People in Chennai live in slums

Living in informal settlements

Chennai is one of the fastest-growing cities in India, but the infrastructure has been unable to keep up with this development. There is a lack of affordable housing, adequate sanitation and safe drinking water. Often people who move to Chennai in search of a better life and job opportunities, end up in slums on the border of the city. It is the fourth city in India with the biggest population living in slums. An estimated 40% of people in the city live in slums. Children are most vulnerable to the poverty in these slums, and to the lack of access to safe drinking water and inadequate sanitation.

Your support makes a different for children in Chennai

SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities to offer a wide range of support that is adapted to the local context. We always work in the best interest of the children, young people and families.
Adults and children
Are supported in the community
Health care services
Were provided
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Sisters helping each other learn to ride a bicycle. Siblings grow up together, and often form bonds that last a lifetime (photo: SOS Children’s Villages India).

How your support helps in Chennai

Strengthening families and communities
When parents face hardships, they can sometimes struggle to give children the care they need. SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities to empower parents. Each family needs different support so that they can stay together. This support can include workshops on parenting and children’s rights. We also run trainings so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to school.
Providing medical care
In areas with limited health services, SOS Children’s Villages provides medical advice and assistance. We offer preventative measures such as medical check-ups and vaccination programmes. Most of the patients who approach us for medical help come from local families, who could otherwise not afford to receive treatment.
Caring for children who cannot live with their families
Some children cannot stay with their families, even with additional support. When this happens, they can find a new home in SOS Children’s Villages. Here the children can build safe and lasting relationships. All the children in our care have access to education and healthcare. Wherever possible, we work closely with the children’s family of origin. If children can return to live with their families, we help them adapt to this change.
Supporting young people to become independent
To help young people become confident and independent, our local team works closely with each young person to develop a plan for their future. We support young people and also help them prepare for the labour market and increase their employment prospects. For example, young people can attend workshops and trainings run by SOS Children’s Villages. They also improve their skills through taking part in different projects with local mentors and businesses.