Bukavu is located in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), close to the border with Rwanda. The city's surroundings are picturesque, but this idyllic setting, overlooking Lake Kivu, is one of the most violent and conflict filled areas in the country.
There has been persistent conflict in the DRC for over a decade and this has left deep scars on communities throughout the country. Dealing with the impact of the conflict will be a long process, but supporting children will be vital for ensuring a successful future for the country and its people.
Children of war
Sadly, it is often children who suffer the most from conflict and this has certainly been the case in Bukavu. The violence has left many without any form of parental care and left children, even at very young ages, completely alone.
Even more worrying was the prevalence of child soldiers, who were forced to fight for one side or another. Those that survived now live with both physical and psychological trauma and will need a lifetime of care and support to overcome the damage that was done.
The areas troubled past and the rapid growth of Bukavu - now home to over 800,000 people - has put an enormous strain on public services in the city. Poverty is widespread and lack of space has made it impossible for people to construct suitable housing.
Large numbers of children are unable to attain even their basic food needs and many more are forced to fend for themselves, often turning to crime or prostitution. Local authorities have also struggled to control the spread of HIV/AIDS and there has been a worrying rise in the numbers of children suffering from the disease.
Our work in here
We have been working in Bukavu since 1989, and have been here through some of the most turbulent times in the country's history. We offer a broad range of assistance that ensures that children get the support they need to flourish as adults.
Supporting the community
We work very closely with the local community to make sure that it is a positive environment for children to grow up in. Our SOS school and nursery offer children vital educational opportunities and give parents a safe place to leave their children whilst they go to work.
This educational support is also available to adults through the SOS vocational training centre, which gives them opportunity to develop a range of vocational skills. Finally, our SOS medical centre treats thousands of people in the region and also runs campaigns targeted at combating HIV/AIDS.
Our family strengthening programme targets families who are struggling to stay together. Through the programme we offer support and advice as well as help with food and medicine. This helps ease the pressure on poor parents and ensures they can be there for their children.
When children are unable to stay with their biological families, they can find a home with one of 15 SOS families at our SOS Children's Village Bukavu. They are cared for by a dedicated SOS mother and attend the local SOS school, which helps them make friends with children from the local community.
When they are old enough they can join the SOS youth programme, where they receive support as they undertake further training and take their first steps into adulthood. They will remain part of their SOS family for life and many maintain strong connections to their SOS mother.
For children who have endured war, life on the streets, and poverty, your support can change their lives. Sponsor a child in Bukavu today, and transform a young life.