Bakoteh is a district in The Gambia's largest city, Serrekunda. Located on the mainland near the capital city, Banjul, Serrekunda often serves as an overspill for the capital, which is restricted from growing by its island location.
Life is extremely tough for many children in Serrekunda. Poor services such as education and healthcare, child trafficking to and from neighbouring countries and poverty mean that many children grow up amid extreme hardship.
Poor services and widespread poverty leave children begging on the street
Many children spend their childhood begging on the streets of Serrekunda. Some are sent to live with religious leaders by their families - but, tragically, end up begging for money on their behalf. Known as "almodous", many come from neighbouring countries such as Senegal and Guinea-Bissau.
Of the vast number of children from poor families in Serrekunda, most do not go to school. Girls in particular suffer as a result of the area's poor education system, as they are often kept out of school to help at home or simply because education is seen as irrelevant to girls.
Poor medical care has disastrous consequences for the many families who lose children in their early years. In The Gambia today, more than one in ten children die before reaching the age of 5. Though child mortality is largely confined to rural parts, heavily populated urban areas suffer too.
What are we doing to help?
SOS Children has been helping families in The Gambia since 1982.
A home for every child
Our Children's Village offers a loving home to children who have lost the care of their families. Here, they grow up supported by an SOS mother alongside their SOS brothers and sisters, and enjoy the very best education and healthcare until they are ready to leave our care.
Good education and the best healthcare
In a country where not enough children receive a good education, we are focused on getting as many children as possible into quality schooling.
Our nursery school provides an introduction to learning and group play to well over 200 young children, while allowing their parents the freedom to work while their children are safe in our care.
The next step is primary school, which places for over 800 pupils. Here, children enjoy the next stage of their educational journey in a fantastic learning environment. Our secondary school offers over 1,000 places to children from around Bakoteh, offering specialist training in technical subjects. Young people can develop their technical expertise at our vocational training centre, where we offer courses such as metalwork, car mechanics and carpentry.
Our medical centre provides healthcare to families from across the community, with a special focus on support for mothers and children. We provide a much-needed safe environment for mothers to give birth, and offer health advice on all manner of issues.
SOS Children gives children a chance in a city where opportunities are few.