Basse (or Basse Santa Su, to give it its full name) is The Gambia's easternmost town. It lies on the south bank of the River Gambia, and is the administrative centre for the Upper River Region, with a population of around 18,000 people.
Its location makes it a key trading and transportation hub for the wider region and indeed the whole of western Africa. In spite of development, many families live on the brink of poverty, and loss of parental care is a common occurrence for children in the area.
Loss of parental care
The extended family plays an important role in The Gambia. With poverty widespread, the wider family acts an important safety net for many children. The erosion of the traditional family leaves children at risk of losing adequate care. Many children who are left without their parents end up living in the care of their grandparents, and older children often take on the role of caregiver.
Vulnerable children often live in precarious circumstances. Everyday necessities such as food are often scarce for these children, while education and healthcare is far beyond reach. Without a solid start in life, these children often grow up without the skills they need to find employment and frequently find it difficult to succeed later in life.
What are we doing to help?
SOS Children came to Basse in 2007. We aim to help children flourish by providing all they need to get a good start in life.
A loving family for every child in our care
For children who have lost the care of their parents, we provide a loving home in an SOS family. At home in our Children's Village, they benefit from the best education and best healthcare throughout their childhood. We provide a nurturing environment as they journey towards adulthood, and, through our vocational training programme, offer the skills and guidance they need to realise their career aspirations.
Helping families achieve self-sufficiency
With our social centre as a base, we bring vital support to the most disadvantaged families. Some families are struggling simply to keep food on the table, and for these, we provide food packages to keep children well-nourished. Medical care ensures children get the vaccinations they need to stay healthy, and that treatment is available when illness strikes
As well as immediate support, we work with families to help them achieve long-term self-sufficiency. By keeping families together and helping them achieve independence, we ensure children enjoy a better upbringing in a family which can care for their needs.
Learning is key to success. That's why we provide nursery and school places to children who would otherwise go without a decent education. Our nursery provides well over 100 children with a fantastic introduction to the world of learning and group play. Their educational journey continues at our award-winning primary school in Basse.
Our presence in Basse means the most vulnerable children have what they otherwise could not - a loving home and the chance of success.