Conakry is Guinea's capital and has a population of two million. Poverty is a major issue for children growing up here – frequently compounded by child abuse and child marriage.
For the first time since independence from France in 1958, Guinea held democratic elections in 2010. A succession of dictatorships had made life life tough for most residents.
A long way to go before democracy reaches all
The port is the city's economic powerhouse. It is also the city's largest slum, with limited sewerage, running water, health services and schools.
General strikes in 2006 and 2007 helped pave the way for democracy. Democratic change is only the first step towards systemic reform. Living conditions are difficult for most and crime is high, with an average of ten murders occurring every day.
Children work to survive
All children must finish primary school by law. In practice, however, the cost of uniforms and equipment puts education out of the reach of many. Girls are often sent to work as domestic servants on tiny incomes. Such workers are vulnerable to exploitation, violence or abuse.
Sexual abuse is common in Conakry, with girls between 11 and 15 the most at risk. Although the legal age of marriage is 17 for women and 21 for men, most marriages are arranged much earlier than this. Many children are forced into prostitution or all victim to sex traffickers, and thousands more fend for themselves on the streets.
What we do in Conakry
Since 1989, we have been working in Conakry to ensure families stay together and children remain with their parents. Our community programmes address poverty at root and ensure that children are able to access education and healthcare, get the food they need and live in decent homes.
Our social centres provide parents with skills training so they can find sustainable work and support their family independently. We run a literacy programme specifically women to help them find work.
Guinea was the first country hit by the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic. Throughout the crisis, our priority was to protect the children in our care. To prevent the spread of the virus, we closed schools during the height of the outbreak.
A loving home at SOS Children's Village Conakry
Not every child can live with their parents, but that doesn't mean they have to grow up alone. For the most vulnerable, we provide a home in an SOS family within our Children's Village. As youngsters, they attend the SOS nursery alongside children from the neighbourhood. They go on to attend school in the community.
The SOS youth programme provides young adults with an introduction to independent life. They live in shared accommodation, adjusting to a more self-sufficient way of life, while attending further education or vocational training. Our youth workers support them as they begin making important life choices and prepare for the next stage in their journey.
Every child in our care benefits from a place in an SOS family and the love of an SOS mother. Will you help a child thrive by sponsoring today?