Bambous is a small town in western Mauritius, and the capital of the Black River District. Sparsely populated, the region is home to distinctive tropical rainforests.
As with the rest of the volcanic island of Mauritius, Bambous is struggling to achieve gender equality and has high wealth inequality. Despite being a realitively prosporous African country, high living costs leave many families struggling to provide for their children.
Families left behind
Mauritius is making progress on its development goals, with free primary education and healthcare available to all Mauritians. However, there are disparities in how these gains are being enjoyed. Many families experience high living costs due to the island importing 75% of all commodities. In rural areas, the struggle to afford basic goods is even higher.
Farming and fishing are the main sources of income for many rural families - yet their take-home wage is often low. To make matters worse, environmental damage such as soil erosion, over-grazing, and turbulent weather threaten the small plots of land on which they grow their food.
Youth unemployment is high, at 21%. Others who are affected by unemployment include single mothers - especially when they don't have any qualitfications or professional training. This is an issue on the island, where almost 13% of women are illiterate (compared to 9% for men).
The effect on children
Rural populations live in areas that are less developed, and may lack infrastructure and sanitation facilities. Coupled with uncertain and small incomes, families living in rural areas are disadvantaged. The effects on children are wide ranging, culminating in their potential not being reached.
These children are more likely to become malourished, to drop out of school or to live on the streets. Worst of all, they are at greater risk of being exploited for child prostitution - which worryingly has been on the rise in poorer areas.
How we help in Bambous
We began working in Bambous in 2003. To prevent children from losing the care of their families, we offer families in need tailored support. Our family strengthening programme helps children to enjoy a secure and caring home life. For example, we provide parents with training of work skills, helping them to earn a better income.
We empower families with skills and knowledge, with the aim that families becomee self-reliant and able to support themselves in the long-term. Children need their basic needs met in order to grow, so we also provide educaton, healthcare, good nutrition and social activities.
Children with no-one else
Some children do lose the care of their parents, including chidren who have been orphaned or abandoned. For these children we provide a new loving home in our Children's Village. Here, over 100 children are living in seven SOS families. These unique families are comprised of a small group of children, taken care of by an SOS mother.
To integrate into the surrounding community, children make friends with others from the neighbourhood at the SOS nursery. Working parents appreciate the daycare we offer, as it allows them to leave their children in safe hands while they earn an income. Once at school age, children go to the local schools, further integrating into the locality.
Skills for work are important, which is why we offer young people vocational qualitifications as our training centre. Here they can take course in plumbing, electrical installation, woodwork and pastry making. With relevant skills and knowledge, these young people are able to find work and flourish.
You can sponsor a child in Bambous today, and ensure that a child with no-one else is given a loving family home, education and healthcare.