Uvira is a town on the north of Lake Tanganika, allowing for water access to Tanzania and Zambia. Despite being stratgeically placed, the development of the town has een stunted due to several long conflicts.
The continuing violence and instability in the Sud Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) leaves many children vulnerable. We began working in Uvira in response to conflicts in 1996, and continues to support children with no-one else.
Women and children greatest victims of brutal wars
Uvira is surrounded by mountains, and in an area that is rich in minerals. Sadly, this makes the town ideal for militias and armed groups to set-up their bases. Relative calm has returned to Uvira after years of brutal war, however the area remains dangerous and periodically violent.
Women and children have been the biggest victims of conflicts in the DRC. Shockingly, rape was used as weapon of war in this region, resulting in many children born from rape. The consequences are traumatised women, and children who are unwanted and stigmatised.
Children miss out on school
Thousands of children don't receive an education due to a lack of schools, as well as being malnourished from a lack of adequate health care. Poverty, conflict and HIV/AIDS has caused Uvira to be home to many orphans, who often end up living in the streets. With no home, they are vulnerable to abuse, violence and a bleak future.
What we do to help in Uvira
We began working in Uvira after heavy conflicts in 1996 threatened children's lives. Our emergency relief was intended as temporary humanitarian support. However, it soon became apparent that longer-term help was required due to the number of children without parental care.
Working in Uvira is full of challenges due to the lack of infrastructure and resources. For example, the supply of water and electricity are unreliable. Therefore in Uvira and the DRC we play a strong advocacy role to improve infrastructure, as well as carrying out our programmes.
Strengthening vulnerable families
We believe that the best place for a child to grow up is with their own family. That's why we work with local organisations to support fragile families to stay together. The SOS Social Centre reaches out to hundreds of families and helps them to become self-reliant. We provide essential items, provide skill training for parents, and help families to grow their own produce in vegetable gardens.
12km outside of Uvira, in a poor area, we have established an SOS Medical Centre. Here families can receive medicines and treatments, and women can safely give birth. The medical centre works with local partners to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and reduce the spread of the disease.
A new loving family for children without
When a child has lost parental care we offer them a new life in our Children's Village in Uvira. Here they belong to an SOS family and are lovingly cared for by an SOS mother. The community is in a safe and secure location, and ensures access to school and healthcare. It's a place where happy childhood memories are created.
Children attend the SOS Nursery and Primary School with their peers from local families, thereby integrating with the community. By securing a good education early in life, these children will help their region to develop in the future. Once they do reach adolescence, many join an SOS youth programme, where they are supported into independence. They may embark on vocational training courses or higher education.
Conflict in the DRC has left many children orphaned and living on the streets. We offer hope and a loving family to these children with the support of child sponsors. Will you sponsor a child in Uvira today?