SOS Children's Village Bishkek Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, is situated in the north of the country, near the Kazakh border. The city's name derives from the Kyrgyz word for a churn used to make kumis (fermented mare's milk), the Kyrgyz national drink. SOS Children's Village Bishkek is located in a pine forest near Ata-Turk Park and is surrounded by picturesque hills. The family houses were built in a circle symbolizing the sun. Flower and kitchen gardens were laid out next to each family house. The official opening ceremony took place on 22 July 1999 in the presence of Helmut Kutin, president of SOS-Kinderdorf International, representatives of the Kyrgyz government and numerous guests of honour. SOS Children's Village Bishkek comprises fourteen family houses with a capacity to take in up to 126 children, houses for the village director and the SOS aunts (who support the SOS mothers and take care of the children when the mothers are on leave), a sports field and an administration and service area. The adjoining SOS Kindergarten can cater to a maximum number of 60 children and consists of three class rooms; it is open to children both from the SOS Children's Village and from the neighbourhood. Since autumn 2002, an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School has been operational, offering primary and secondary school education to up to 400 pupils. The school comprises fourteen classrooms, a computer room, chemistry and physics lab, a room for geography and biology, rooms for practical courses in handicraft and home-economics, a library, a sports complex, a meeting room, a room for medical care and a multipurpose hall. In order to meet the needs of the growing number of youths who had outgrown the SOS Children's Village, an SOS Youth Facility was purchased in 2005, where youths can stay during higher education or further training and prepare themselves for an independent life. The family strengthening programme offers access to essential services for children’s development (eg. educational, nutritional and health support, social skills) and supports families to protect and care for their children. The programme also aims at linking families with income generating activities and offers help to improve the parents’ parenting skills.