SOS Children's Village Itahari SOS Children's Villages became active in Itahari after the earthquake of 1988. Today, the organisation gives support to the local population in order to strengthen families and keep children from losing parental care. 14 SOS families provide loving homes for up to 140 children who cannot be taken care of by their own families anymore. A small town gaining importance due to its location at a highway junction Playing basketball in their school uniforms (photo: SOS archives) Itahari is a fast-growing town in eastern Nepal. It is situated in a fertile plain near the Indian border, about 500 km from Kathmandu. Located at the main transportation junction in eastern Nepal, the town is gaining importance as a traffic hub. The area in and around Itahari is inhabited by many poor people who earn their living as day labourers. They often cannot afford child day-care and therefore have to leave their children alone during the day or take them along to their places of work. Older children have to help their parents and therefore cannot attend school. This means they are not likely to be able to break the cycle of poverty once they become adults. SOS Children's Villages moves in to help after an earthquake strikes In 1988, an earthquake wreaked havoc in the eastern parts of Nepal. It caused death and destruction and left many people destitute and homeless. Numerous children lost their parents. In order to help these children and to support the poor population of this part of Nepal, SOS Children's Villages decided to set up its sixth programme in the country. The SOS Children's Village Programme Itahari is located approximately 3 km outside the town, in a small village called Arhariya. What we do in Itahari On the way to school (photo: SOS archives). SOS Children's Villages runs family strengthening programmes to support underprivileged families in the neighbourhood. We offer scholarships for school fees, text books and school uniforms for the children on the one hand and income-generating training workshops for women on the other. For children whose families can no longer take care of them SOS Children's Villages provides a loving home in one of the SOS families at Itahari. They can attend the SOS Kindergarten and the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, where they mingle with children from local families, which helps them become part of the community. The school offers primary and secondary education for more than 500 pupils. The kindergarten is very important for parents who have to go to work and need good-quality day-care for their children. The children are looked after by qualified child minders and nurses. They are provided with nutritious meals, clothes, early childhood education as well as games and entertainment. Once they reach schooling age, they are granted scholarships for different schools. Boys usually move on to the SOS Youth Programme when they start vocational training or go on to higher education. With the support of qualified counsellors, the young people develop realistic perspectives for their future, learn to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions. They are encouraged to develop team spirit and build up contacts with relatives and friends, as well as with the relevant authorities and potential employers. After the strong earthquake caused widespread damage and suffering, SOS Children’s Villages co-workers from SOS Children’s Village Itahari offered emergency help - in the form of food, first aid, water and shelter - to local families in need.