Mombasa is home to 1.2 million people and its infrastructure and social services are unable to meet the needs of the growing population. The city’s seaport and tourism industry bring great wealth to the area, but the majority of the city’s residents are living in abject poverty.
Children are malnourished and vulnerable to disease, and without access to education, many face a grim future on the streets. SOS Children has been supporting vulnerable families and children in the Mombassa since 1979.
Chronic poverty in Mombasa
With a population of approximately 1.2 million inhabitants, Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city and the country’s economic, cultural and tourism hub. It is located on the Indian Ocean and is a major trade centre with Kenya’s only seaport, Kilindini Harbour. The beaches and luxury hotels located south of the city are tourist attractions and there are also many visitors to beaches located north of the city.
Tourism brings much wealth to the city, but in spite of this, pockets of the population are living in serious poverty. It is estimated that more than 150,000 people live in Mombasa’s slums, without access to basic services including medical care. Lack of sanitation increases the risk of water-borne diseases and HIV/AIDS affects up to 75% of people living in this area.
Street children at risk of exploitation
Unemployment is high in Mombasa and people who are employed generally have very low incomes. There is a lack of schools and overcrowding in classes is an increasing problem. Many families cannot afford to feed their children, and as a result thousands are malnourished and sadly, many resort to sniffing glue to numb hunger pangs.
Children in Mombasa who can no longer be cared for by their parents often take to the streets in order to survive. Without the protection of a trusted adult, these children are at risk of exploitation, taking up petty crime and commercial sex work to survive. An estimated 30,000 girls and boys aged 12-14 are employed in the city’s bars as sex workers catering to western tourists.
How do we help children in Mombasa?
SOS Children’s Villages began its work with the people of Mombasa in 1979, and began our community outreach work in 2008. The SOS Social Centre supports families living in the most severe poverty, assisting them with feeding, clothing and providing shelter and schooling for their children. Health and medical services are provided free of charge, along with counselling and care for families affected by HIV/AIDS.
SOS Children’s Village Mombasa is home to over 100 children who cannot grow up with their parents or extended families. These children have the opportunity to experience a real childhood in an SOS family, alongside their SOS brothers and sisters and in the care of an SOS mother.
The Village is becoming increasingly self-reliant. In 2011, Mombasa Village switched to solar power. Self-sufficiency is nurtured on an individual scale as well, with each home having its own garden where the children can grow fruit and veg and even keep livestock such as goats and geese.
Our nursery is open to children from the Village as well as the neighbourhood. Primary education is provided at the school, which offers places to nearly 500 children from the Village and community.
The SOS youth programme provides an transition phase for children approaching adulthood. SOS counsellors help prepare them for challenges such as money management, maintaining a home and working with others. The youngsters share accommodation and begin to take on challenges such as cooking and cleaning.
While tourists flock to Mombasa's nearby beaches, many children struggle to survive on the city's streets. We care for the most vulnerable in our SOS Children's Village. You can sponsor one of these children today.