The city of Aboisso has a population of around 43,000 and is situated in south-eastern Côte d’Ivoire. The country is relatively wealthy compared to others in West Africa, but this does not mean life is easy for everyone.
Relative wealth has made it a destination for child trafficking from neighbouring countries, and poverty continues to shape the lives of people in all areas of the country.
Women in rural regions suffer the effects of poverty particularly badly. The lack of opportunities has meant that many see marriage as the only means of securing a livelihood. This often leads them to get married and have children at very young ages, and the effects of this are clear.
Marriage at a young age pushes many women leave education early, making them heavily dependent on their husbands. This puts them and their children in a very precarious economic situation. Additionally, a lack of education also places them at higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
Aboisso is located near the border with Ghana and along one of the major child trafficking routes in the country. Parents of these children are often promised that they will be educated and given employment, but this is not the case.
Once they reach their destination these children are often exploited as domestic servants or as labourers in fields, and have no way of going home. Countering the severe lack of awareness about their plight and helping these children escape exploitation remains a pressing issue.
What does SOS Children do?
We started working in Aboisso in 1983 in response the high levels of child abandonment in the area, which persist even now. We continue to work to help all children in the area, as well as to raise awareness about the problem of child trafficking.
Family support services
Poverty leads to insecurity and severely hampers children's educational and emotional development, and this is particularly true for young women. Our family strengthening program helps to combat economic insecurity, and offers mothers the support they need to become more independent and provide for their children.
This enables families to give their children the right start in life, necessary for a bright and prosperous future. We also work particularly with girls to encourage them to not to give up their education in favour of marrying young.
A new loving home for orphans
When children can no longer stay with their parents, they can find a home with one of the SOS families in Aboisso. These children live together with their siblings and are cared for by their SOS mother.
They attend the SOS nursery and primary school with over 200 local children. This helps them to integrate with the local community and develop the social skills that will be essential for them throughout their lives.
When they reach adolescence these children can move into the shared accommodation that is provided by the SOS youth programme. This programme offers them expert advice and support as they find employment or undertake further education.
The skills they have developed throughout their lives will be essential to their flourishing as independent adults, and many retain close contacts with their SOS mother.
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