GUWAHATI, June 22: As per UNICEF, India has more than 30 million children in need of care and protection, compromising the rights of a child, and enhancing the child’s vulnerability. This was informed, ahead of SOS Day, by Sumanta Kar, Secretary-General, SOS Children’s Villages of India, during a media workshop on “Strengthening families – Preventing Child Abandonment”. Notably, SOS Day is observed on the birth anniversary of the Founder of SOS Children’s Villages of India, Dr. Hermann Gmeiner.
While addressing the media, Sumanta Kar, Secretary-General, SOS Children’s Villages of India, said, “There are many factors that lead to child abandonment, few being: financial distress, social challenges, ill-health, substance abuse, gender disparities, etc. We witnessed the loss of jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic, bringing vulnerable families under amplified pressure. Basic rights, including education, health, and nutrition were also compromised. Prolonged lockdowns also resulted in a spike in child abuse and abandonment cases. Strengthening families is an essential preventive measure to ensure that each child receives care and support from their families in order to ensure wholesome child development, reducing the risk of abandonment. This includes the generation of awareness on important subjects like health, hygiene, nutrition, education, child safeguarding, and protection, among other important topics. Besides this, capacity building and income generation activities are paramount. When incomes are supplemented, and awareness enhanced, it empowers caregivers, and subsequently communities. Under our Family Strengthening Programme, we work with families and communities to help them build their capacities so that children are taken care of, and their overall development does not get hampered, thereby reducing the risk of abandonment.”
SOS Children’s Villages of India is one of the largest self-implementing child care NGOs, supporting over 17300 families and 31671 children as of March 2022 through their Family Strengthening Programme. Children belonging to vulnerable families are often at risk of child abuse, being abandoned, or losing parental care. The organization recognizes such families and individuals, strengthening their financial stability by providing them livelihood support, skilling courses, and financial literacy. This helps the families adapt to any changes and help them find employment to generate sustainable income. While building their capacities, children are provided for and cared for. So that their basic rights to health, nutrition, education, and skilling are secured, helping them better future life chances to overcome financial distraught and become self-reliant. Bal Panchayats or Children’s Parliaments enable children to find solutions to pressing challenges, ensuring the cultivation of leadership and critical thinking skills.