Located in the central highlands of Madagascar, Antsirabe is home to a number of food, beverage and textile factories. In the past this has meant that the city's economy has grown steadily, but political crisis in 2009 led to an economic downturn that cost many people their jobs.
High levels of migration from the countryside to the city have meant a growing population in Antsirabe, and it is now home to over 200,000 people. This has put a strain on local infrastructure and people often live without even the most basic public services.
Though many have abandoned their rural way of life, others in the surrounding region still depend on farming, usually growing rice, for their living. Poverty levels amongst these rural communities are still very high and the majority of houses do not even have easy access to clean running water.
This particularly effects women and, and often young girls as well, who spend a lot of time walking to and from shared wells to supply water for the family. This is time which could be better spent getting an education or earning money, and therefore impacts on women's broader life chances.
Forced to work
When children's parents struggle to make ends meet, they often feel forced to rely on the contribution that their children can make to household incomes. This effects children in urban and rural areas alike. The former often work in trades or as domestic servants and the latter usually help their parents on the farm.
Especially worrying is the continued existence of child prostitution in and around Antsirabe. These children have a particularly damaging experience, but all children who are forced to work are missing out on the education and childhood that everyone is entitled to.
What is SOS Children doing for children and families in Antsirabe?
Antsirabe was our third Children's Village in Madagascar and opened in 2003. Since then we have worked with local communities and families to give children the opportunities they deserve.
We are always working to expand our community programmes in the region so that we can reach as many homes as possible. Our aim is to target families who are struggling and offer them advice and support to help them stay together and give their children everything they need.
Our SOS social centre provides essential services such as health care, nutritional support and education, and our 'Asama' course offers special help to children who have dropped out of school. We also provide parents with counselling as well as practical advice on developing income generating skills.
Our SOS medical centre treats up to 500 patients every month and offers a range of medical assistance to people in the area. We provide particular help for pregnant women and babies to ensure that every child starts life on the right footing.
Children without parental care
12 SOS families offer a home to up to 120 children who, for one reason or another, can no longer stay with their parents. These children are able to continue living with their brothers and sisters, and are given all the care and attention they need from their SOS mother.
All children from SOS families in Antsirabe attend the local SOS nursery as well as SOS primary and secondary schools. This helps them meet children from the area and allows them to begin learning social skills that will be invaluable for them in their futures.
By helping Antsirabe's most fragile families grow strong, we ensure children have a safe, secure environment in which to grow up. We are always there to provide a home to those most in need. You can help by sponsoring a child.