Sponsor a child in Togo
Hundreds of thousands of children in the small west-African country of Togo live in poverty, at risk from deadly disease and forced to endure arduous labour every day simply to survive. SOS Children has worked in two locations in Togo since the 1970s and in 2007 opened a third Children's Village to provide much-needed care to yet more families.
Help a child in Togo by sponsoring online with SOS Children:
Hard living in one of the world's poorest countries
Inequality is rife in Togo, where the wealthiest 20% receive half of the country's household income. For the many forced to get by at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, survival is often tough. A third live in poverty, while tens of thousand lack access to housing, healthcare and education. Only one in five has access to improved sanitation, making infectious disease a huge problem. Many people live with HIV/AIDS in a country where adequate treatment is unavailable to the majority.
School almost unknown to most children in Togo
Education is unavailable to most children in Togo, who simply cannot afford to send their children to school. Many have no choice but to work instead. In rural parts, most work in the fields, although children also work in rock quarries, transporting heavy stones or extracting sand to make bricks. Sexual exploitation is a daily reality for some children, and many fall victim to child trafficking for labour or sex. HIV/AIDS afflicts children not just through infection, but also by robbing many of their parents.
Our Work in Togo
SOS Children began work in Togo in the 1970s when the government provided us with two plots of lands, one near the capital of Lomé, and another in Kara in the north of the country. In 2007, we opened a third Village the city of Dapaong in the far north of the country.
Togo's capital city of Lomé is home to over 1.5 million people. Located on the country's southern coast, the tiny Maritime Region in which it is situated is home to 42% of its population, while Lomé itself is home to almost a quarter of its people. Children growing up in Lomé face many problems, including forced under-age marriage. Many girls are victims of polygamy before they even reach the legal age of marriage. Children of polygamous marriages suffer as a result of insufficient financial and emotional care from their fathers.
This is why SOS Children is providing essential educational and nutritional support, as well as health services, to families who otherwise would go without. Guidance on income generation as well as parenting can help families provide a better environment for children growing up. In particular, we target those suffering as a result of HIV/AIDS.
Our second Village was established in 1979 in Kara, a small but rapidly developing town in a remote area of northern Togo. Here in Kara, the majority of people live off subsistence farming, although various crops, such as coffee and cocoa, are produced for export. About three quarters of the population of the region live in poverty, and infrastructure is underdeveloped. Drinking water is available to as few as half, and conditions are particularly bad in the slum settlements which form a ring around the city. These hard conditions mean that families struggle to stay together, and when families do break up, children often end up alone. Life is hard within the family too, where poor nutrition leads to health complications, and for the few who can afford an education, poor school performance.
Family support offered by SOS Children in conjunction with local agencies helps children gain access to education as well as health and nutritional services. This helps develop their future prospects by better preparing them for a decent career, while a good diet improves concentration in schools. Our social centre runs a community self-help project, which offers local people an environment in which they can get together to develop practical solutions to some of the problems they encounter.
Our third SOS Children’s Village opened later, in 2007. Dapaong is situated near the northern border of Togo, in one of the poorest provinces in the country. Well over half the population of Savanes Province live below the poverty line. The high rate of HIV/AIDS means that children often become orphaned, or live in poverty because their parents are incapacitated by the disease. Due to Dapaong's proximity to the border, children often fall victim to people trafficking for sexual exploitation.
To help redress some of these problems, SOS Children works closely with families living in the neighbourhood, supporting parents through education and healthcare to ensure they have the wherewithal to care for their children. Families may need food or medicine to ensure both children and caregivers are healthy and well-fed, or scholarships so that children can attend school. All of this we provide to those who need it. Our SOS nursery offers valuable daycare so that parents have time to work or receive training.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Togo: Impressions of 'strengthened families'
The Family Strengthening Programmes run by SOS Children in Togo are a great help to many families in Kara and Lomé. The Programmes provide families with food and ensure schooling for their children. SOS Children also support parents to become financially independent by offering training in income generation and helping with business start-up costs. This is a testimonial from a mother who has received help through the programme in Lomé.
Therese, 34, is living in Lomé. She is unmarried and lives with three biological children and three of her sister’s children.
“We have been part of the Family Strengthening Programme for three years. Every three months, my children receive a good package of foodstuffs which enables them to have a good meal every day. They also receive clothes, and all that is necessary for their studies.
I am particularly relieved because medical care is also free for them. I was not aware of how valuable this is until I was struck. One day, one of my boys was seriously injured while playing. The wound required treatment at a hospital. I began to cry because I had no money to bring him to the hospital. At this moment I was told that children benefiting from the program have free medical care in public hospitals. You will never imagine my enjoyment. I immediately took the boy to the hospital. He received all the care and I did not have to pay for anything.
The programme also granted me funds which allowed me to start selling grass skirts and clothes. I did not start making big profits yet, but I think that things will be going better very soon. I have new customers every day and people already begin to know me.
I cannot say that the Family Strengthening Programme changed my life; this programme rather 'redid' my life. I am not rich, that's true (she smiles), but I am out of the need. I am less sad and I have fewer problems than before. Before the programme stepped into my life, none of my children was going to school because I had no money for any school necessities. In addition, we hardly had anything to eat on some days, and we had to go to sleep hungrily. Today, this situation is totally different. All the children go to school, we eat well and we are in good health.”
SOS Villages d'Enfants Togo
01 B P 1394
Tel: +228 226 01 06
Fax: +228/226 44 04