Children of Bissau face extreme difficulty. Half do not attend school, but work instead. HIV is a major issue and there is a high child mortality rate.
Child sexual exploitation and trafficking are other occupational hazards of growing up in this poor country.
Efforts to protect children
Bissau is Guinea-Bissau's capital and has around half a million residents. Poverty is the norm in the city, with all the problems that are associated with it.
About 1 in 6 women above the age of 15 are HIV-positive, and this is a major contributor to the country's very high child and maternal mortality rates. 20% of children die during birth and the life expectancy of people in the country is 47 years.
Children miss out on school
Half of children who are of school age are not enrolled. Many children are needed by their families to work to support them so do menial work.
There are a number of major issues that seriously affect the lives of children from Guinea-Bissau. Female genital mutilation is a tradition in the country. Child trafficking and child sexual exploitation are also problems. One of the major trafficking routes is across the poorly guarded border with Senegal.
How we help in Bissau
SOS Children have been working with the government of Guinea-Bissau since the 1990's toward the welfare of the country's children. This has only scratched the surface and there is a great need for long term alternative care to prevent child neglect and abandonment.
Built in the 1990's, SOS Children's Village Bissau is near the centre of the capital city. Here, when children can no longer live with their parents they are offered a new home with an SOS family. They grow up being cared for by SOS Mothers. Children from the Village attend the SOS school, forging and maintaining bonds with the wider community as they would in parental care.
Supporting a whole community
We run social centres that engage with the community to try strengthen familial bonds and attempt to keep families together. We offer vocational skills training to enable parents to improve their career prospects and enable them to earn more to support their families. Single mothers get some of the greatest benefits from this scheme as they can care for their children and work without putting their children at risk.
The social centre also offers courses in children's rights, HIV prevention and parenting skills. There is also an SOS nursery which looks after up to 150 children, allowing their parents to go to work. Children go on to primary and secondary education at the school. This school has led the way in national education, guiding authorities across the country as to how best to provide for the country's children.
Do you believe that every child in Bissau deserves to grow up in a loving family home? If you do, please sponsor a child today.