In the Indian state of Madhaya Pradesh, SOS Children's Villages started its activities in 1987, three years after the terrible poison-gas accident in the city of Bhopal. Numerous children had lost their parents in this disaster, but they are not the only children in this part of India who need help. In 1989, the first families moved into the family houses of SOS Children's Village Bhopal. The SOS Children's Village is situated about 8 km from the city centre. There is a market, a school and a hospital close by. SOS Children's Village Bhopal consists of 16 family houses, a multi-purpose hall, staff accommodation and the necessary administration and service area. There is a playground and a football field, where the children can romp around and have fun.
The SOS Children's Village includes an SOS Kindergarten and an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School. Both facilities are open to children from the local community as well. The school has seven classrooms and offers primary education for up to 120 children.
1999 saw the opening of an SOS Youth Facility at Bhopal. Young people usually move from the SOS Children's Village to an SOS Youth Facility when they start a vocational training course or go on to higher education. With the support of qualified youth workers, 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.
In 2002, SOS Children's Villages India launched its family strengthening programmes in Bhopal. 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 Bhopal 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.