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

Varanasi is a city located on the banks of the Ganges River, in the Uttar Pradesh state in north-east India. Around 1.5 million people live in this city. The economy is focused on the production of silk weaving, carpets and also tourism. However, the state in which Varanasi is located is one of the poorest states in India: 37% of people are live in poverty, and 44% suffer from food deprivation. Children are especially vulnerable to these living conditions, as they struggle to keep safe, healthy and well-nourished.

Since 1984, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Varanasi.

Of girls are forced into marriage

Children vulnerable to inequality

Gender inequality is a concerning issue in Uttar Pradesh, where Varanasi is located. To illustrate, in the state, 25% of girls were forced into marriage before the age of 18. This has already decreased from 68% in the past. Child marriage is a violation of the universal declaration of human rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound. Furthermore, literacy rates in Uttar Pradesh speak for themselves: the literacy rate for men is 82%, while the literacy rate for women is 66%. Offering equal opportunities to children needs to become a priority.

Of people live in slums

Living in informal settlements

Varanasi is a rapidly growing city in India, but the infrastructure has been unable to keep up with this development. Often people who move to Varanasi in search of a better life and job opportunities, end up in one of the 220 slums in the city. Most of those slums are located in the center of the city next to Ghats, the stairs leading to the Ganges where spiritual rituals are performed. In these slums, there is a lack of affordable housing, adequate sanitation and safe drinking water. An estimated 35% of the population in the city live in slums. Children are most vulnerable to the poverty in these slums, lacking access to healthcare and education.

Your support makes a different for children in Varanasi

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
Learn at our kindergartens and schools
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
A happy moment! A child proudly holds up the medal won in a competition. SOS Children's Villages supports families in creating an enabling environment where their children can develop and flourish (photo: SOS Children’s Villages India).

How your support helps in Varanasi

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. 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 quality education
SOS Children’s Villages ensures that children and young people have access to high-quality education. We help them learn and develop in a safe and supportive environment. We train teachers on children’s rights and child-centered learning, so that each child can get the most out of their education. Young children spend time playing and learning at kindergarten. This prepares them for primary school.
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.