Our SOS Children's Village in Vontovorona is situated in a suburb of Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo. The population of the city stands at around two million, and it continues to grow as people come in search of employment.
2009 brought political turmoil that pushed the country into socio-economic crisis. This has led to a severe rise in poverty throughout the country that sees many families struggling to get by and adequately provide for their children.
Children in the workplace
Poverty brings with it increased numbers of children working to help provide for their families. This is a particular problem in cities like Antananarivo, where many children come to find work. They are often far from home and have no one to depend upon, which makes them very vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Child labourers often work in very dangerous industries. This has an immediate impact on their health and well being. Just as importantly, these years spent out of education mean that children will struggle to break out of the cycle of poverty in later life.
Even when families migrate from the countryside to Antananarivo, their lives are far from easy. Thousands of families live in slums, where access to even the most basic services, such as electricity and running water, are limited at best.
The houses they live in are small and often poorly constructed, and many are situated near to open sewers. Without support and access to vital services, the children growing up in this environment have few opportunities to succeed.
What SOS Children is doing in Vontovorona
We began working here in 1989 and have seen the city grow to its current size. Regardless of the social and economic difficulties, we remain committed to working with local people to ensure every child gets the right start in life.
Providing vital services for the community
Our SOS social centre in Antananarivo provides a range of services which help families make a difference in their children's lives. We offer parents guidance on developing income generating activities and give them practical support, such as daycare for working parents.
Our SOS medical centre offers basic care to many who could not afford it otherwise. Taken together, the assistance we provide helps keep families together and ensures children are healthy and happy.
A home for those without
Our SOS families offer a loving home to as many as 150 children who can no longer live with their parents. In this secure family setting, they are cared for by their SOS mother, growing up with all the other boys and girls which make up their SOS family.
Children attend the SOS nursery and then the SOS primary and secondary schools with about 400 children from the local neighbourhood. This experience helps them to build friendships and learn invaluable social skills.
When they are old enough, these young people move up to the SOS youth programme, where they are supported by qualified counsellors during their transition into adulthood. We also run an SOS vocational training centre which teaches young people modern farming methods, helping ensure stable livelihoods throughout life.
From welcoming them into their new SOS family to supporting them through childhood and into independence, we are there for the children we support at every stage of their development. You can help the most vulnerable children in Madagascar's capital by sponsoring a child.