SOS Children's Villages set up our third base of operations in the town of Huambo. Though peace has returned to the country, its citizens are still struggling to recover from the long civil war.
Huambo is the second largest city in Angola, and lies about 600km south east of the country's capital Luanda.
Social infrastructure severely damaged by war
The city was one of the hardest hit by the civil war with many thousands killed or maimed by the conflict, and many more leaving as refugees. Though war ended in 2002, it has taken a long time for people in Huambo to rebuild their lives and the city's infrastructure. Subsistence agriculture has been the mainstay of the economy but due to landmines, people can't farm much of the land outside the city, for the risk of being killed or injured.
Many people are flocking to Huambo for a better life away from the countryside. They take residence in areas on the city's fringes which lack basic sewerage, refuse collection, let alone healthcare and education. For most families newly arrived in the city, life is a real struggle.
Children have to grow up early
Children suffer the most in this situation. Thousands are chronically malnourished and many have lost key members of their families due to civil war or HIV/AIDS. Traditionally in Angola, families who cannot look after their children send them to relatives but in Huambo, many relatives cannot take children on from extended family as they are struggling to get by themselves. Many older children end up heading their families, working for money or begging to support their siblings. Only half the children of Angola receive formal education and healthcare is scarce.
Our work in Angola
SOS Children's Villages has been working in Angola since the 1980's. Torn by civil war, the country's economy has only recently been improving, but even so most people don't benefit from the wealth that does reach the country - it ranks in the bottom ten of socio economic indicators. War and HIV/AIDS has impacted on the country's ability to recover and many people need long term support to survive.
How do we help in Huambo?
SOS Children's Village in Huambo runs a variety of programmes, reaching out to a wide range of its citizens. Since 2008 we have been running a family strengthening programme which has provided support to parents at risk of abandoning their children in order to survive themselves.
With very high rates of HIV/AIDS, we focus on giving support to them as a high priority. Through our social centre we ensure that children have access to education, good nutrition and have access to health centres. We also give advice to mothers and fathers on parenting and how to get an income to support their families.
SOS Children's Villages run a nursery school and a primary school which reach out to the wider community, not just those we directly support. The SOS Nursery gives families the chance to work without caring for their toddlers all day, while preparing the children for primary school education. Our SOS Primary School has a capacity for 600 children, and reaches out to the wider community beyond the Village. In giving the children education, so they have a far better chance of getting ahead in life and generating an income for themselves.
Children who can no longer live with their mothers can find a home in our Children's Village with one of the SOS families where they are lovingly cared for by SOS Mothers. Children go to school with other children in the community, forging and maintaining links in their home towns.