The governor of the Orissa province, numerous members of the regional government as well as senior representatives of SOS-Kinderdorf International, SOS Children's Villages India and SOS Children's Villages Norway - who helped finance the village with a unique fundraising initiative - were all in Rourkela for the official opening of the SOS Children's Village.
The guests were warmly welcomed by children and mothers and were able to get an impression of the village from a tour and were impressed by the traditional dance of the children.
The construction of this SOS Children's Village in the eastern state of Orissa came out of the need to create a long-term facility to look after children who, up to now, had been looked after as part of the emergency relief programme. Most of the little village-dwellers lost their parents in the disastrous cyclone of 1999 which left a trail of destruction through eight coastal provinces in India. The Orissa region, which lies south west of Kolkata (Calcutta), was worst hit. Official estimates talked of 15 million people being directly affected, around five million homes destroyed, and 8,000 people killed.
As a first phase of aid, SOS Children's Villages India provided medical care, distributed food and offered help for children in the crisis area. Up until the beginning of 2000, 190 children who had lost their families to the natural disaster were taken into care, long or short-term, by SOS Children's Villages. Some could, over time, be integrated into new families, 47 lived in SOS Children's Village Bubaneshwar and 60 further children lived in rented accommodation until such time as they were able to move into "their" village in Rourkela.