Girl from SOS CV Pondicherry, India SOS Children's Village Puducherry

On 26 December 2004, a sea surge disaster struck vast coastal areas on the Indian Ocean and left more than 300,000 people dead. A gigantic tsunami hit India, wreaking havoc across the southern coastline. It was caused by a massive earthquake on the sea bed off the coast of Sumatra, which triggered a chain of waves that travelled at the speed of 500 km per hour. The most severely affected areas in India included Pondicherry and coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala provinces.

From the first day, SOS Children's Villages of India started an emergency relief programme and has so far established five child protection centres with a capacity of 30 children each. More than 900 families with about 2,000 children have received support. Re-construction of seven villages, which are home to around 1,100 families, is also under way. In addition, the government of Pondicherry has asked SOS Children's Villages of India to establish an SOS Children's Village in Pondicherry province for children who have lost their entire families, so that they can overcome their traumatic experiences with the help of a mother, a home, a family and a sense of belonging.

Pondicherry town, the capital of the Union Territory of Pondicherry, is located on the east coast of India in the Bay of Bengal, about 160 km south of Chennai. Having been the capital of the French colonies in India from the 17th century to 1954, the town has a rich French cultural heritage: neatly laid out streets that still carry their French names, wide boulevards, beautiful promenades, architecturally imposing churches and public buildings. Despite the relatively high degree of urbanisation, about 45 % of the population depend on agriculture (mainly crops and dairy products) and fishery for their livelihood.

SOS Children's Village Puducherry consists of 15 family houses, the village director's house, co-worker accommodations, a community building, and an administration and service area. In order to reach out to families living in the neighbourhood and help them look after their children, there is an SOS Nursery. There the children are taken care of during the day so that their parents can go to work.

Other SOS Projects in Puducherry

In 2008, SOS Children's Villages India launched its Family Strengthening Programmes in Puducherry. These programmes are intended to support families at risk of abandoning their children and to encourage families to stay together. SOS Children's Villages therefore works with local authorities and other service providers to support families and enable them to take good care of their children. The Puducherry 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.