Chad’s civil war has ended and its political situation is becoming more stable, but many of its people are living in desperately hard conditions in the capital city and its refugee camps.
Due to rapid population increases with the influx of refugees, there is a serious lack of infrastructure and thousands of children have inadequate access to health care and education. SOS Children has an established presence in the capital, N’Djamena and is working to strengthen families and keep them together.
Children the most vulnerable in the aftermath of violent conflict
N’Djamena is Chad’s capital, economic centre and largest city with a population of nearly a million inhabitants. The city is a port on the Chari River and regional market for livestock, grains, dates and salt. Its primary industries are meat, fish and cotton processing. In 2009, N’Djamena was named Capital of Islamic Culture and its attractions include mosques, a cathedral and the Chad National Museum.
N’Djamena has experienced rapid increases in population since the 1990s due to influxes of refugees fleeing rural areas. N’Djamena itself was under repeated attack during the civil war, forcing 140,000 residents to leave their homes. Today, Chad’s political situation remains precarious, and children are the most vulnerable group. Only 40% of children aged five and 14 years attend school, and an estimated 53% of children are working.
Children living in refugee camps are at risk of violence, abuse and sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked for prostitution or forced labour and there have been reports of children being kidnapped by rebel groups and being forced into life as child soldiers. Child labour is also common in the city. Many parents are living in desperate poverty and are simply unable to protect their children.
Emergency relief and long-term solutions
In response to a growing need, SOS Children’s Villages has expanded its family strengthening programme in Chad in order to reach as many vulnerable children and their families as possible. The programme works to reduce hardship and maintain family stability to keep families together, allowing children to grow up in a safe and loving environment.
SOS Children has an established SOS Social Centre in N’Djamena that is currently assisting 600 children and their families. The social centre provides children with access to health care, nutritional services and education. For their parents, the centre offers counselling and psychological support as well as guidance on developing income-generating skills and successful parenting practices.
In Bahai, we operate an emergency relief programme at the Oure Cassoni refugee camp. Oure Cassoni is home to approximately 30,000 refugees from Darfur. Many of the camp’s inhabitants have been severely traumatised and suffer from depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. The relief programme offers individual and group counselling and treatment. A child-friendly zone has been created to allow children to escape the harsh realities of their new home through play therapy, games, drawing and sports activities.
Our work in N’Djamena
Since 2005, the N’Djamena SOS medical centre has been critical to the well-being of those in the local population who cannot afford to pay for health services. The centre provides basic medical care to about 8,000 patients each year.
Twelve SOS families provide a loving home to up to 120 children who are no longer able to live with their parents. Children grow up in a stable environment alongside their SOS brothers and sisters and under the care of an affectionate SOS Mother.
Children attend the N’Djamena SOS Nursery along with children living in the surrounding area, allowing them to make friends and integrate with their community from an early age. SOS children move on with their local peers to receive their primary education at the SOS School, which is attended by 246 children.
When older SOS children are ready to move out of the family home, they are supported by the SOS Youth Programme in semi-independent, shared accommodation. Qualified counsellors provide guidance as our young adults complete their education or vocational training and make the transition to adulthood.
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