Yamoussoukro has been Côte d'Ivoire's capital since 1983, when then-president Félix Houphouët-Boigny chose his birthplace to be the country's new premier city.
It is located in central Côte d'Ivoire, about 150 miles from the country's historic capital, largest city and economic centre, Abidjan. Deprivation is widespread Yamoussoukro, where many children miss school, working instead to support their families.
Political instability hits healthcare and education
Agriculture remains the region's primary industry. Many plantation workers travel to Yamoussoukro from afar to find employment, and household income is low. Often, families cannot afford to send their children to school, and many children are forced to work to keep their families afloat. The number of girls in education is especially low, and many are forced to marry young. UNICEF estimates that a fifth of girls in Côte d'Ivoire marry before the age of 18, while nearly a third have had their first child by the same age.
Years of political instability mean that Côte d'Ivoire has invested relatively little in infrastructure, including vital services such as education and healthcare. This has not only resulted in low school enrolment, but has also contributed to Côte d'Ivoire's high under-5 mortality rate. A shortage of clinics, medication and medical professionals means that many young children go without essential primary healthcare such as vaccinations and treatment during their most vulnerable years.
Loss of parental care leaves children vulnerable to exploitation
The risk of losing parental care is particularly high in Yamoussoukro, largely due to HIV/AIDS. When parents become too ill to take care of a household, it is children who are forced to take the reins. Many end up working in a bid to support their families, while others are reduced to begging in the streets.
Hardship leaves children vulnerable to exploitation. Human trafficking is common throughout Côte d'Ivoire since its economy is better than many of its neighbours, meaning jobs are more plentiful. This makes Yamoussoukro both a source of and destination for trafficked children. Often, parents are promised a good life for their children, who are instead conscripted into a life of effective slavery as farm labourers or household servants for wealthier families. Some escape, but few manage to find their way home.
What are we doing to help?
We ensure vulnerable children in Yamoussoukro have a safe, loving home, as well as the space and opportunities to realise their dreams. We began supporting children here in 2014, making Yamoussoukro our newest location in Côte d'Ivoire.
Supporting vulnerable families
With a little support, many families are able to care their children. With education scarce and unaffordable where accessible, poor parents need help to get their children into school. We ensure children can benefit from primary and secondary education, which is often the key to escaping generational poverty.
Because most children work when their families cannot survive on their main income source, we equip parents for better jobs through skills training and even provide the support they need to start their own businesses. We believe that helping families achieve financial independence is the best way to ensure that children will grow up in the best possible environment.
Providing care when no one else can
Not every child can grow up with their parents. Sometimes, children are orphaned by HIV/AIDS or other causes, or a family finds themselves in intractable poverty and simply cannot support their children.
When this happens, we welcome children into an SOS family, where they grow up alongside their brothers and sisters in the care of an SOS mother. Each SOS family lives within the community so that children can grow up surrounded by the people they will live their lives with, benefiting from the opportunity to mix and get to know the other children.
We offer learning to children from SOS families and the wider community at our nursery and school.
What next for Yamoussoukro?
We're relatively new to Yamoussoukro, and are expanding our services to help local families. We also plan to open a life skills centre and a reproductive health clinic to fill critical gaps in basic infrastructure. We'll also work with foster families to ensure that more vulnerable children can grow up in a loving home.
Children growing up in Yamoussoukro face many hazards, from trafficking to the loss of parental care. Our supporters ensure the most vulnerable of all benefit from a loving home and all the opportunities for a happy, successful future. Please help. Sponsor a child today.