The city of Bata was once the capital of Equatorial Guinea and, because of its port, remains an important part of the country's trade infrastructure. The city is situated on the country's Atlantic coast and has a population of around 180,000.
Though the discovery of crude oil has brought wealth to Equatorial Guinea, this money has remained concentrated in a few hands. Likewise, the country is a long way from having a fully democratic government, so most people get little say in the political decisions that affect their lives.
Access to proper healthcare remains one of the foremost difficulties faced by people in Bata, and the country more broadly. There are only 153 trained medical doctors in Equatorial Guinea, so the availability of medical services is extremely limited.
Even when a doctor or nurse can be found, one night in hospital can cost the average person the equivalent of two and half months' salary. The lack of affordable medical care severely limits efforts to combat diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.
The impact of HIV/AIDS
The high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea has caused many rural families to move to Bata in the belief that they will receive better treatments. However, living costs in the city are relatively high and there are few jobs, so many people struggle to attain even a basic standard of living.
This can often mean that medical conditions deteriorate further for sufferers, placing thousands of children at risk of losing parental care. Already, a large number of homeless or uncared for children in Bata are missing out on a stable and healthy childhood.
What does SOS Children do to help children in Bata?
We began working in Bata in 2000, and recently started to broaden our efforts to identify and support vulnerable families and children. We will continue to work with the local community to ensure that every child is given the best chance to succeed.
To help families stay together and raise their children, we offer a range of assistance through our community programmes. We give parents support, such as helping them develop income generating skills, and guide them as they overcome challenging financial and parental situations.
We focus particularly on supporting families that are affected by HIV/AIDS and help them to deal with the hardships it places on them. Working with local authorities and communities ensures that these changes will be sustainable long into the future.
Our SOS medical centre in Bata cares for around 2,000 patients every year. We currently offer basic care but are planning to expand soon so that we can help even more people in the region.
For those children who can no longer stay with their parents, our SOS mothers are there to provide a caring family environment. Here, they can remain with their brothers and sisters; an essential part of their emotional and psychological well being.
As they approach independence, young people join the SOS youth programme. This gives them a place to live and begin making the transition into adulthood. Our skilled counsellors are always on hand to help them overcome any setbacks and attain independence.
We are there to support the regions' young population throughout their childhood and into adulthood. With our help, Bata's children can enjoy a happy, healthy childhood and a successful future. By sponsoring as child, you can be part of this work.