Hargeisa is the capital of the self-declared independent state of Somaliland. Internationally recognised as autonomous region of Somalia - but not a separate state - Somaliland separated from the rest of the country in 1991, when civil war led to the collapse of the central government.
Though Somalia's civil war no longer affects Somaliland, the region's involvement did not end until 1994. By this time, much of Hargeisa had been destroyed, and the city's infrastructure has yet to recover.
A city of contrasts
Hargeisa is Somaliland's key financial centre, with money sent back from abroad still an important part of the economy. However, many families who fled the region during the civil war have returned to the city and are now living in large houses in the city's outskirts.
Despite the affluence of some residents, huge numbers live in desperate poverty. Recovery - both economic and social - has been slow, and most people live on less than $1 per day. Hospitals, schools and other essential infrastructure - much remains in desperate need of improvement, and cannot meet the needs of Hargeisa's people.
Appalling conditions in Hargeisa's slums
Many children grow up in terrible conditions with none of the infrastructure needed for a decent upbringing. In Lixle, near our Children's Village, many people still live in a camp for people displaced by war - two decades after the conflict ended. In places like this, living conditions are harsh. Houses are built built out of improvised materials such as plastic bags and cardboard boxes, and inhabitants struggle to feed their children.
Such conditions means children live a life on the edge. Whole families are at risk of disease - and with no hospitals to treat them, they children are left in extreme jeopardy when they fall victim to illness. With few schools to go to, children have no obvious way out of poverty, and such hardship continues from generation to generation.
How does SOS Children help?
We began our work in Hargeisa back in 2009, providing all manner of relief to desperate families, as well as a loving home to children with no one else.
Providing vital services
Our SOS Social Centre in Hargeisa is a vital resource for numerous families. The centre offers a range of hugely beneficial services, from healthcare, education and counselling, to practical guidance on child rights, childcare and income generation. Through such services, we help families create a way out of extreme poverty.
Loans are available to those with business ideas, alongside skills training and a full support package to enable them achieve their entrepreneurial aspirations. This is a fantastic way of helping people help themselves; enabling parents to support their children with dignity and self-assurance.
A Medical Centre operates from the Social Centre and is open to the whole community; serving as many as 12,600 children and mother every year. We treat common complaints such as respiratory disease and malaria and deliver vaccination programmes to vulnerable children. We also offer a family planning service, support expectant and new mothers, and carry out HIV testing. We also work with families to help prevent HIV/AIDS.
Not only does the Social Centre offer these essential health and welfare services, it also acts as a place where the community can get together to share ideas and help each other cope.
Giving lone children a new home
Some children can't grow up with their families. For these children, we provide a new home with an SOS family. They begin their educational journey at our SOS nursery with children from the wider community.
Since 2009, we have provided families in Hargeisa with the best possible care and support. We look forward to helping many more in the future.