SOS Children's Villages has been present in India since 1963. In 1971 we started working with Tibetan Children’s Villages, an organisation which supports people from Tibet, autonomous region of China who have settled in this north Indian province. Tibetan Children’s Villages is an independent charity which is partly supported through SOS Children’s Villages' sponsorships.
Struggling to make ends meet
Children enjoying some time out in the surrounding nature (photo: SOS archives).
Tibetan Children's Village Gopalpur is located in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is about 30 kilometres from Dharamsala. The number of Tibetans living in the area has increased steadily since 1959 when the Dalai Lama left China and set up his residence in Dharamsala. There are now two generations of Tibetans who have been born and brought up in India. In addition, children from Tibet, autonomous region of China are often sent here by their parents.
In spite of efforts to create income-generating enterprises, the levels of unemployment remain high. As a result, there are an increasing number of families who struggle to make a living.
Supporting children from Tibet, autonomous region of China
As the number of people and children from Tibet, autonomous region of China arriving in the Dharamsala area continued to increase, Tibetan Children's Villages decided to start another long-term programme in the area. All the children in our families have lost parental care; while some children have no living parents, others have parents who are in Tibet, autonomous region of China, in other locations throughout India, or have moved further away.
What Tibetan Children’s Villages does in Gopalpur
Children are happy to get a snack (photo: SOS archives).
Tibetan Children's Village Gopalpur provides day-care, medical treatment, primary and secondary education, as well as family-based care. Tibetan Children's Village generally have many inhabitants due to the large number of Tibetans here. In this case, the village has its own grocery store, bakery and communal kitchen.
Children who have lost parental care can live in one of the 34 families alongside their brothers and sisters. Due to the great number of children without parental care, families may have up to thirty members and sometimes even more.
Young people live in special accommodation while they start vocational training or go on to higher education. There are two such houses - one for girls and one for boys. With the support of qualified professionals the young adults are guided through this new stage of their lives.
Young children go to the day-care centre. As the children grow older, the school provides them with a primary and secondary education in accordance with their Tibetan beliefs.
The Medical Centre provides medical advice and treatment to people from the village and to those from the surrounding neighbourhoods.