Kaolack is the capital city of the region of the same name, and is home to approximately 200,000 people. It is located relatively near to the coast in western Senegal and just to the north of The Gambia, a small country almost completely enclosed by Senegal.
The area around Kaolack is often referred to as the 'peanut basin', since most of the local economy depends on processing and trading peanuts. Despite this industry, the people of the region often struggle with very difficult situations and life is hard.
Senegal's economy has grown over the last decade, but the people of the Kaolack Region are the poorest in the country. Life as a subsistence farmer remains hard and up to 60% of people in rural areas are not having even their most basic needs met. This has led many to abandon rural life for the perceived opportunities of the city.
Sadly, life in the cities is not much easier than life in the countryside. Kaolack is renowned for being one of the most polluted cities in the whole continent, with no official waste collection and no access to clean water. This has become a breeding ground for disease and in the summer months the smell is almost unbearable.
Sexually transmitted infections
Senegal has made massive strides in cutting down HIV infection rates, especially when compared to neighbouring countries. A key reason for this was the legalisation and regulation of prostitution among over 21 year olds. By ensuring that these women get regular check-ups and providing free condoms, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases has been greatly reduced.
However, many women under the age of 21 work as prostitutes as well. They are operating illegally, so cannot access the same support as older workers. Not only are these young girls vulnerable to infection but they also have nowhere to turn in cases of abuse and exploitation.
How does SOS Children help in Kaolack?
Since 1983 we have been working in Kaolack and have seen how the city and the region have changed. We have adapted to the transformation and are focused on our goal of ensuring every child has a loving home.
A family home
When children can no longer live with their parents they can find a loving home at our Children's Village in Kaolack, with one of 12 SOS families. Along with their SOS brothers and sisters, they are looked after by their trained SOS mother.
All of these children attend our local SOS nursery and SOS school, where they can form bonds with children from the area. Serving up to 600 children these facilities are important institutions in their own right and ensure that no child is left behind.
Once they are old enough to leave their SOS family, children can take up a place in the SOS youth programme. Here, they are given accommodation and are helped by trained staff as they begin the difficult transition into independent adulthood.
Centre of support
Our SOS social centre provides support for families and children throughout the area. We focus on keeping families together by providing counselling and support for parents and ensuring that children have access to key services, such as healthcare and schools.
Complimenting the work of SOS social centre is our SOS medical centre in Kaolack. This is run as a mother and child clinic and provides general medicine as well as specialised paediatric and obstetric care to roughly 200 patients.
Orphaned children in Kaolack are given a new family and home in our Children's Village. Each is supported by generous child sponsors. Will you sponsor a child in Senegal today?