Located in northern Namibia just 50 miles from the border with Angola, the town of Ondangwa has a population of just over 23,000 people. Together with the nearby towns of Oshakati and Ongwediva, it forms the biggest metropolitan area after the capital, Windhoek.
These towns are the commercial and industrial heart of northern Namibia, but many people in the area still rely on farming and cattle herding for their livelihoods. Equally, even the most basic public services and infrastructure remain unavailable to large portions of the population.
The rapid population growth in Ondangwa and the surrounding area, has not been matched by the construction of permanent housing. This has left many families living in corrugated-iron shacks called 'kambashus', on land that they do not legally own.
Life in these areas is hard and insecure. There is little access to electricity or running water, and increasingly regular flooding devastates homes. Because they do not own the land, these families can be evicted at a moment's notice. These insecure conditions affect children's development particularly badly.
Women at risk
Difficult lives have led many people to turn to the locally brewed beer, 'tombo', for release, which is easily accessible for children. Research has suggested that alcohol is a key driver behind the spread of HIV/AIDS, so this alcohol abuse is a major concern. Young girls are particularly at risk, since they are often expected to trade sexual favours for drinks given to them by men.
These gender dynamics extend into adulthood as well. Most women in Ondangwa earn a lot less money than men, and so depend on partners to support the family. When no permanent partner is present, women sometimes rely on exchanging sex for gifts to help them support themselves and their children.
The work we do in Ondangwa
Our SOS Children's Village Ondangwa was set up in 2009 as the result of a one-off partnership between SOS Children, the local government and the donation of a Canadian family.
Mothers for children
Up to 120 children who cannot remain with their families are able to find a home with one of 12 SOS families in the SOS Children's Village Ondangwa. They are able to live with their brothers and sisters and receive all the care and support they need from the SOS mother.
Our SOS nursery provides a place where children from SOS families are able to meet and make friends with other children from the neighbourhood. Even at this young age, this helps them to integrate and develop social skills that will be important throughout their lives.
Building stronger families
Our SOS social centre provides help and support to around 1,000 children and their families. We help poor parents to cope with their difficult circumstances, for example, by offering them advice on developing income generating activities and counselling to help deal with stress.
We also work with the local community to ensure that all children can access health, educational and social services. A happy and healthy childhood is something that every child deserves, and ensuring that they get it will help them to become successful and prosperous adults.
We offer hope for children in Ondangwa who have no-one else. At our Children's Village they join a loving SOS family, and get all the support they need to flourish. Will you sponsor a child in Niger today?