Bhuj, Gujarat

SC BhujSOS Children's Village Bhuj

About twice every century, this area is hit by strong earthquakes.  This has changed its topography by altering river courses and creating elevations such as Allah's Bund (Allah's dam). On 26 January 2001, when the whole country was busy celebrating Republic Day, such an earthquake struck. Within minutes, more than 100,000 people lay trapped under debris in the streets or in their homes.

SOS Children India swiftly provided emergency relief.  Within weeks, 25 child-relief centres had been set up. Over two thousand children were provided with day care, medicines and diet supplementation. The SOS Child Relief Centres operated for six months, until families had been able to re-organise and schools and medical centres had been restored in tents.

By then, it had become clear that more than a hundred children would need permanent care as they had lost both parents or one parent, with the other not being in the position to take care of the children alone. As time passed, some children who had been taken care of by their extended families were also abandoned. In the end, there were 125 children in need of long-term care. Since there was no SOS Children's Village in this area, it was decided to set up a new one.

The site of the new SOS Children's Village is located on the outskirts of Bhuj at Madhapur Township.  Next to the village, there is a colony for those whose houses were destroyed during the earthquake. Before the completion of the SOS Children's Village, twelve of these houses were inhabited by the children under the care of SOS.

The SOS Children's Village consists of 14 family homes, a community house, staff accommodation, and the necessary administration and service area. There is an SOS Nursery School, which is also open to children from the neighbourhood.

Other SOS Projects in Bhuj

Since there is a special need to encourage the education of girls in this area, SOS Children's Villages has started an SOS School with a small hostel for girls. The school has ten classrooms and provides primary education to up to 350 pupils.

In order to improve the medical infrastructure of the area, an SOS Medical Centre, where people from the neighbourhood can come for examinations and treatment as well as counselling, has been set up.

In 2004, SOS Children India launched its family strengthening programmes in Bhuj. These programmes are intended to support families at risk of abandoning their children and to encourage families to stay together. SOS Children therefore works with local authorities and other service providers to support families and enable them to take good care of their children.

The Bhuj Family Strengthening Programme provides nutritional, educational and health support as well as vocational training, career counselling sessions and job placement support. Families are linked with existing self-help groups; if there is no group, a new one is formed. The programme also aims at raising awareness of hygiene and child rights and improving people's parenting skills.

Background to Bhuj

Bhuj has a population of over 100,000 is a city and a municipality in Kachchh district in the state of Gujarat, India. It was established by Rao Hamirji in 1510 and was made the state capital by Rao Khengarji I in 1549. Presently, it is the district headquarter of the Kachchh ditrict, the second largest district in India.