SOS Children's Villages has been present in India since 1963, our work developed rapidly all over the country and we started our activities in Mussoorie-Happy Valley in 1971. In the northern Indian location of Mussoorie we work with the Tibetan Homes Foundation since 1971, an organisation which supports people from Tibet, autonomous region of China. Tibetan Homes Foundation is an independent charity which is partly supported through SOS Children's Villages sponsorships.
As people continue to arrive from Tibet, autonomous region of China the pressure on resources grows
Siblings having fun together (photo: SOS archives).
Tibetan Homes Foundation Mussoorie-Happy Valley is located in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, about 35 kilometres from the state capital of Dehradun.
It is estimated that around 5,000 Tibetans live in Mussoorie. There are now two generations of Tibetans who have been born and brought up here. But people continue to arrive, especially after periods of unrest in Tibet, autonomous region of China In addition children from Tibet, autonomous region of China are often sent to Mussoorie by their parents.
Mussoorie has become a tourist centre, attracting many visitors to the beautiful countryside and cultural and religious sites. Tibetans have therefore found a way to make a living through servicing these visitors - they act as tourist guides or run restaurants, accommodation and shops. Others make carpets and other handicrafts which are primarily sold to visitors. Although tourism has provided people with a livelihood, it has also brought some environmental problems as the infrastructure struggles to deal with the increase in people.
Many educated young Tibetans face a hard choice: although they often want to remain in the Tibetan community, they find it hard to make a living here. 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 support themselves.
Supporting the children of Tibet, autonomous region of China
In 1962, the Tibetan Homes Foundation was established to care for Tibetan children. In 1962 a Tibetan Homes Foundation Village was set up in Mussoorie, but as children continued to arrive, this village could not accommodate them all, so Mussoorie-Happy Valley was built right next door.
All the children in the 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 Homes Foundation does in Mussoorie-Happy Valley
On their way to school (photo: SOS archives).
Tibetan Homes Foundation Mussoorie-Happy Valley provides day-care, medical and dental treatment, primary and secondary education, vocational training as well as family-based care. They also provide vulnerable people in the community with financial support to pay for school fees or to cover the cost of daily needs for elderly people.
Children who have lost parental care can live in families alongside their brothers and sisters. Due to the great number of orphaned and abandoned children here, 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.
Children from the families and from the neighbourhood go to the Kindergarten. Having a place where a professional looks after their children while they are at work or receive training makes life easier for parents. As the children grow older, the school allows them to receive primary and secondary education in accordance with their Tibetan beliefs.
In addition there is a Vocational Training Centre which offers courses in dress-making and arts and handicrafts, so that young people can generate an income in the future. Since 2009, there is also a holiday camp.