Today, SOS Children works in 125 countries around the world, where 546 Children's Villages provide a caring home for nearly 62,000 children. While Villages may be the most iconic aspect of our work, they are only one of a wide range of projects which reach a total of 2 million people every year.
In the Basse region of the Gambia, less than half of all children go to school, while only one in 5 adult women can write. Against this backdrop, our award-winning primary school provides 200 children with an exceptional introduction to education every year. Many of these children are from our local Children's Village. However, more than half come from the community beyond, and it through just such a community-wide approach that we help children escape the cycle of poverty and begin to build a brighter future for their area.
Likewise, our nursery in Basse has become a staple of the community. As well as providing an early introduction to education for many children, the daycare we provide here has enabled countless mothers to go out to work, reassured that their children are safe in our care.
Our most recent Village opened in the eastern Zambian town of Chipata last year. High rates of HIV/AIDS mean that there are twice as many orphaned children in Chipata than the national average, with the majority of households caring for orphans. Often, AIDS continues to afflict these families and in many cases the breadwinner suffers from the disease.
Our Village offers shelter to 43 children with no one else to care for them, with 100 more joining them over the coming months.. We are working to give children a better education in a country where the average class size is 68, expanding a local school to include new classrooms and providing electricity for the first time.
Half of Zambian children die before they reach the age of 5 of diseases which are easily curable in the developed world. From Chipata, we run a mobile medical centre which offers travels to remote communities, providing vaccination and treatment to 6,000 people every year.
Across the world, thousands of families benefit from help which simply wouldn't be there without our help. Globally, our schools extend education to 100,000 children and our healthcare projects protect families from malnutrition diseases which would otherwise be fatal. Such fundamental steps provide a bedrock on which - with our help - families can free themselves of generational poverty and start to bring prosperity to their community.