What happens next?

Young men in a workshopFrom Olympic hopefuls to budding scientists, SOS Children's Villages are home to enormous talent. Here, we show you how our SOS youth homes prepare youngsters for independent life. We also introduce you to some of the successful young adults who have left our Villages.

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What is an SOS youth home?

When young people from our SOS Children's Villages are old enough to leave their SOS families, many of them move to an SOS youth home with others their own age. Youth homes are often located at the SOS Children's Village, but some are situated beyond the Village to help youngsters adjust to the outside world.

Girls make tea in an SOS youth home

Young people from SOS families are joined by those from the surrounding community. Youngsters often join aged around 15 or 16, when they are in the final stages of secondary education.

Residents are looked after by a live-in SOS youth leader, who is part of a team of SOS teachers and counsellors specially trained to work with young people. The youth home operates during the academic term. In the holidays, residents can visit their families or remain on site.

How do we help young people to prepare for independent life?

The SOS youth homes provide young people with education and training, teach key life skills, and help them to mature into well-rounded adults. We begin by teaching them the basics they need to live independently, such as preparing and cooking food, managing finances and maintaining a household.

Young people are encouraged to become active participants in society. At the youth home in Monaragala, Sri Lanka, residents join youth forums so they can get a flavour of politics and public debate, as well as leadership programmes so they can help lead their communities forward. In Niamey, Niger, young people run an “Anti-AIDS Club” which helps raise awareness of HIV/AIDS amongst children from the Children's Village and beyond.

A young woman on vocational training in Kita, Mali

What educational opportunities do we offer?

Students often come to the youth home towards the end of secondary school and begin by completing national exams or international qualifications such as the IGCSE. When exams are finished, we help them plan their futures. Whether they are academic or practical, we encourage youngsters to pursue their interests while guiding them towards their strengths. We give ongoing career guidance, and when they are ready to leave the youth home, we help them find a job.

Skills training

Youth homes generally work in tandem with SOS vocational training centres, so residents almost always have the opportunity to gain skills training under the guidance of specialist teachers. Often, vocational training centres are open to the community too, giving those from the youth home the chance to mix with young people from the community. The qualifications on offer are tailored to the local job market so that young people are able to find work once they leave the home.

Higher education

Some youth homes offer academic qualifications as well. SOS Children's Villages also runs a number of International Colleges, where highly gifted youngsters come together to learn. Our International College in Tema, Ghana admits students from all over Africa, offering higher education qualifications. 

Going further afield

Some budding young academics want to go further afield. After completing his studies at the SOS Children's Village in Hawassa, Ethiopia, Mekidem went on to study at Harvard University in the USA.

“The teaching experience in SOS has taught me that life is not only about the mind but also the heart,” he said, as he prepared to begin his new academic career in America. “I am so grateful for SOS for making my dreams possible.”

What next? Inspirational stories of SOS young people

Residents typically leave the youth home aged between 18 and 21, though we support them for longer if they still need our help. Many youngsters go on to achieve incredible success or work to create a better world for others.

Here, we inspire you with some SOS success stories from around the world.

Maya's story: Touching lives through education

Maya came to the SOS Children's Village in Bhubaneshwar, India, at just four months old, after the death of her parents. At 24, she is working to get children back in school after poverty has forced them to leave education. “For being independent, a basic education is required,” she says. In 2014, Maya won the Hermann Gmeiner award, which celebrates the greatest achievements of SOS young people. “My main motto is that every life I touch should prosper,” she says.

Deepak's story: Campaigning for disabled rights

Freelance architect, qualified social worker, disabled rights campaigner and table tennis enthusiast – a glance at Deepak's CV tells you that paraplegia has never held him back! Deepak grew up at the SOS Children's Village in Jorpati, Nepal, which provides care to children with disabilities. Today, he pays frequent visits to inspire and enliven the children, and he has even designed a wheelchair-friendly office. He is another winner of the 2014 Hermann Gmeiner award.

Adeline's story: Achieving Olympic success

Adeline came to our Children's Village in Abobo-Gare, Côte d'Ivoire when she was three. She came to the UK to study sports at Loughborough University aged 18. She is also a gifted athlete. In this moving interview from 2012, she talks about her Olympic dreams, her experience of life in the UK, and growing up in a Children's Village:


The journey continues

This is just a snapshot of the numerous success stories we celebrate at SOS Children's Villages. Every day sees numerous achievements as young people leave our care to embark on bright futures. You can help them begin their journey by sponsoring a child.


SOS Children has been helping children in poverty in The Gambia for over 30 years.