SOS Children’s Villages for Tibetan children was initiated in 1960 by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, to care for Tibetan refugee children who had fled across the Tibetan border following the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. To this day, thousands of children make the dangerous journey every year, across the mountains and often without their families.
Today, they have 11,000 Tibetan children in their care. SOS Children has built eight villages (including the largest SOS Children’s Village in the world) and seven schools to help them. The schools are open to all Tibetan children, including those whose parents have survived with them.
The Villages and schools teach the children traditional Tibetan values and culture. They also learn English, and as they live in India, they also learn all about the culture of their adopted country.
The first permanent children’s village for Tibetans opened in Mussoorie, northern India, in 1962, and today cares for 900 children. Due to the sheer numbers of vulnerable exile children in the area, Mussoorie’s second children’s village, named ‘Happy Valley’ opened nine years later. Attached to Mussoorie is a school for 1,300 pupils.
Dharamsala and Leh
Dharamsala, a large town in northern India, was the location for the charity’s next Village due to the high numbers of refugees living there. SOS Children’s Village Leh, in a town north of Dharamsala, opened in 1975 and these two children’s villages are the largest in the world. Each cares for over 2,000 vulnerable children, who receive all the educational and medical care they need to help them overcome their traumas and achieve their potential.
SOS Children’s Village Bylakuppe, which opened in 1982, has 32 family homes, each of which has its own vegetable patch where children can learn how to tend crops and have something nutritious to eat. The SOS School here offers 1,300 pupils a high-quality education.
Bir, located not far from Dharamsala, was chosen as the location for the sixth Tibetan village in India. 700 children and youths live in the 16 family homes and youth homes, and there is an SOS Kindergarten for the little children.
Due to the continual flood of refugees across the Tibetan border, Golpapur opened in 1998. There are 33 family homes, along with a bakery, grocery store, medical centre and a daycare centre. 1,000 older children from the Village and Tibetan community attend the SOS Secondary School in the town.
Our newest Tibetan children’s village, which opened in 1999, is found in Dehradun and cares for 140 vulnerable children in 14 family homes. Alongside the Village and the SOS Primary and Secondary School is an SOS Vocational Training Centre. Here, 200 youths, many of whom have missed out on formal education, learn metalwork and/or business and commercial skills.
Source: SOS Children Villages