SOS family having dinner (photo: N. Somchat).
Bangkok is the largest city of Thailand. It is the nation's capital and main port. The problems it faces are typical of big cities: pollution, housing shortages and streets congested with traffic. Many children from poor families, often with a migration background, live and work in the streets of this city. These children come to Bangkok from the rural parts of Thailand or from neighbouring countries such as Cambodia in search of a better life – many of them without their families.
Children living in the streets or in one of the around 1,000 slum areas of Bangkok have to work to make a living or to help raise the family income. They beg or peddle small items in the streets. They work until late at night, and they frequently miss school because work takes precedence over their education. Many of them are not properly registered, so they are not entitled to health care or an education at all. Their situation makes them vulnerable to commercial and sexual exploitation, violence and abuse.
After a visit to Austria, during which she learned about the organisation's work, Queen Sirikit decided to invite SOS Children's Villages into her country to help orphaned and abandoned children there. The fact that the city of Bangkok has the largest number of vulnerable children predisposed it to becoming home to the country's first SOS Children's Village. The first president of SOS Children's Villages Thailand donated the piece of land where the programme was set up. It is located in Bangpoo, one of the suburbs of Bangkok.
Doing their homework together (photo: N. Somchat).
SOS Children’s Villages tries to strengthen local families by offering day-care for their children at the SOS Kindergarten. For poor families, especially for single parents, it is important to have a place where professionals look after their children. This enables parents to work and earn a living, without having to leave their children unattended.
Children whose families can no longer take care of them can find a loving home in one of the twelve SOS families. The children from the SOS families attend local schools or the SOS Kindergarten together with local children, which helps them become part of the community. This is important for their integration into society when they grow up.
SOS Children's Villages offers special programmes for young adults. They can live in a house at Samutprakarn while they attend vocational training or higher education. With the support of qualified counsellors, the young people develop 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.