Sponsor a child in the Gambia
Since the 1980s, our supporters have helped the Gambia's neediest children. In a country where infant mortality is high, life expectancy low, and natural disasters common, life is tough for the poorest members of society. We work to give some of the neediest a better life.
You can make a real difference to the life of a Gambian child by sponsoring today with SOS Children:
Low life expectancy and a harsh climate
Life expectancy in the Gambia is only 56 years and there is a high infant mortality rate at 112 per 1,000 live births. Located by the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding the Gambia River, the Gambia faces frequent flooding. In 2010, many homes were destroyed and thousands left homeless. Crops were also ruined, compounding the impact on people’s lives. Major public health issues are caused by infectious diseases including diarrhoea and malaria. In rural or semi-rural areas, more than 60% of the population are classified as poor. 29% of the population of the Gambia is undernourished and about 1 in 5 children are born underweight.
Children miss school to work instead
About a quarter of Gambian children are involved in some form of child labour. For children who work, education is often missed.
Only 67% of primary school-aged children in the Gambia are enrolled in primary school.
- HIV/AIDS rates are low compared to other African countries. However, there are some areas where it is still persistent and mainly affects women. Girls, some forced into early marriage and sexual activity, account for the highest share of HIV infections.
Our charity work in the Gambia
Basse, in the far eastern part of the country, is located on a trucker route between northern and southern Senegal. Basse receives a very high number of immigrants from Senegal and surrounding countries, who come to the Gambia hoping to make money to send back home. The area suffers from very high unemployment rates, and most people make a living from subsistence farming, making them vulnerable to crop failure. Together with the high malaria infection rate it means that Basse is one of the hardest parts of The Gambia to be a child in.
This made Basse a natural choice of location for the second SOS Children's Village in the Gambia. It opened in 2007 thanks to the support of SOS Children supporters in the UK. There are 12 family homes at the Village, giving homes to over 100 children. There is also a large playground and lots of green areas for the children to run around in. The SOS Nursery offers a pre-school education to over 120 children, and over 200 children attend the SOS Primary School. A Family Strengthening Programme supporting vulnerable families in the community was started in Basse in March 2010.
We started our work in the Gambia in 1981 with a community in Bakoteh, a short distance from the town of Serrakunda and about 10 miles from the capital, Banjul. The 10 family houses, built in the local style and surrounded by flowers, shrubs and trees, are homes to around 100 children and their SOS mothers. There is also an SOS Nursery, used by local children as well as children from the Village, and an SOS Primary and Secondary School, which are now run by the national education authority.
The main aim of the SOS Vocational Training Centre Bakoteh is to pass on to young people knowledge and experience that will enable them to run their own businesses and lead independent lives. We specialise in three areas: carpentry/woodwork, car mechanics, and metal work/tool making. Five SOS Youth Homes provide accommodation for young people from SOS Children's Villages in neighbouring countries who come here for training. The centre also operates as a production and service unit supplying the general public, making it to some extent self-sufficient.
A shortage of medical facilities in the area led to the establishment of an SOS Mother and Child Clinic in 1997, which provides medical care and counselling especially for pregnant women and mothers with small children. An ambulance is available to transport emergency cases. The clinic is one of Gambia's most important medical facilities providing services and assistance to around 10,000 people in the locality each year.
There is also a Family Strengthening Programme in Bakoteh which supports over 300 community children and their families with food, healthcare, education costs, and provides income-generating opportunities for caregivers. This programme helps to prevent child abandonment.
We set up a Girls’ Youth Home in 2006 to support young girls forced into commercial sex work due to economic hardship and who are as a result outcast from society. SOS Children began this project, which has now been handed over to the Department of Social Welfare.
Life in SOS Children's Villages the Gambia
Oumou, a 13-year-old girl from SOS Children's Village Bakoteh, on why she loves living at the village:
"It is safe,
We are given all the support in our education,
We have a nursery inside and we all start our education at an early age,
We celebrate all the feasts together, regardless of religion,
We have a clinic and our mothers take us there when we are sick,
We are cared for and loved,
It is well organised,
I have a mother and a family that I can call my own,
We have a clean and tidy environment,
And many fruit trees!"
SOS Children's Villages the Gambia
Hermann Gmeiner Drive Highway
P.O. Box 3269
Tel: +220/446 67 14, +220/446 67 15, +220/446 67 17
Fax: +220/446 67 16