Dafra is a suburb of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso’s second largest city. It has a population of close to 550,000 and is located in the country’s southwest. Its primary industries are the agricultural trade and textiles industries.
SOS Children’s Villages established a presence in Dafra in 2004 in response to a lack of facilities and support for children who had lost the care of their parents.
Overcrowding and limited resources are putting children at risk
Bobo-Dioulasso is an important centre for culture and music and features historic buildings and fine examples of colonial-era architecture. Bobo-Dioulasso’s central location on trade routes makes it a destination for people from surrounding rural areas in search of work.
Due a sustained influx of internal migrants, Bobo-Dioulasso has struggled to keep up with rapid increases in its population, and physical and social infrastructure, health care, education and employment opportunities are very limited. Families in the city are affected on a daily basis by poverty, HIV/AIDS and inadequate sanitation, which can lead to bouts of illness from infectious diseases. Many families live in a state of extreme hardship and children are particularly at risk of losing the care of their parents through illness or death, or abandonment if parents are unable to provide for them.
Daily life in rural areas is also fraught with difficulty and many young boys and girls migrate to Bobo-Dioulasso in search of opportunity. Girls as young as 10 can find work as domestic servants for families in the city, but most earn less than $5 each month and are in a precarious position, alone and without a guardian, and vulnerable to abuse.
Providing education and opportunity for young girls to shape their own futures
Drugs and prostitution are prevalent in urban areas of Bobo-Dioulasso and young people, particularly girls and refugee children, are exposed to many risks as a result of becoming involved in these industries.
Young girls are often encouraged by their families to migrate from rural areas in search of employment. These girls are targets for commercial sex work and are extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation and violence from their employers as well as being at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Girls from surrounding villages rarely receive formal education and it is estimated that in some parts of the country, 72% of girls aged seven to 14 do not attend school, and in some areas over 95% of girls are not able to read or write.
Often, women who do not have another source of income, rely on gifts and money from sexual partners as their livelihood. This is a serious health concern for a large number of women who have an increased risk of being exposed to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
Despite being outlawed in 1996, the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is still widespread, although the prevalence is falling. According to a 2010 study, Bobolaise women view FGM as a socio-cultural obligation necessary to achieve respectability. Although arranged marriages are rare in Burkina Faso, forced marriages of young girls are common.
Our work in Dafra
In 2004, SOS Children’s Villages began working with families in Bobo-Dioulasso, helping vulnerable children and supporting parents and carers through a family-strengthening programme. We assist parents and carers with advice on parenting skills and income-generating activities, helping them to build their confidence and capacity to care for their children. Our SOS social centre provides care and support as well as practical health and counselling services to families affected by HIV/AIDS.
Now benefiting from the help offered by SOS Children
One of our main aims is to ensure that local children have access to education as well as heath and basic social services. For children who are no longer able to live with their parents, we have several SOS families that provide a stable and loving home for up to 120 children. In our SOS families, children grow up alongside their SOS brothers and sisters and are cared for by an affectionate SOS Mother.
Our SOS children attend the SOS Nursery with children from local families, allowing them to integrate with their community from an early age. Following nursery school, the children attend the SOS Primary School where they learn valuable skills for their lives as young adults. The SOS Secondary School is an important educational facility in Bobo-Dioulasso, and is attended by approximately 900 students.
Many children in Burkina-Faso have lost parental care. From having nothing and no-one, they now live in our Children's Village and have hope for the future. Will you sponsor a child in Dafra today?