SOS Family Strengthening Program
SOS Children’s Villages do not admit those children who have mothers – unless they have remarried and left their children with relatives, in which case they are categorized as ‘social orphans’. No matter how difficult the circumstances may be, no institution can replace a mother and the emotional and psychological effects on the children, far outweigh any deprivation they may experience. Nevertheless, the difficulties faced by many women-headed households are extreme and these families constitute the largest category of candidates deserving of welfare assistance.
SOS Children’s Villages Pakistan started a pilot project for the children of such families in Johar Town, Lahore. The objective is to relieve the mothers of the responsibility of looking after the needs of the children, thus making it possible for them to find employment. They are permitted access to the children and are encouraged to take them home on weekends and holidays. The children admitted will benefit from a protective environment, facilities of a high standard and a good education. They will receive the same benefits and quality care as are provided in an SOS Children’s Village.
The intention is to duplicate these projects in other areas so as to serve a wide number of needy families. The projects can be (a) only residential, with the children being sent to neighbouring schools, or (b) residential schools, with in-house schooling. The latter is the better option and should be given preference, wherever feasible. Schools established can also serve the outside community.
Currently, this program is functioning in the following cities across Pakistan:
- Johar Town, Lahore
- Kharian/Karam Bagh