Gammarth is a seaside resort and thriving tourist destination at the northeastern tip of the Tunisian coastline. It is located on the outskirts of the capital Tunis, about 12 miles from the city centre.
Despite its continued popularity as a holiday destination, the tourist industry has seen a downturn since the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011.
Economic uncertainty and escalating unemployment
Home to five-star hotels, breathtaking beaches – not to mention a notable cinema complex – Gammarth is the height of tourist luxury. However, 2011's regime change, known in Tunisia as the “Jasmine Revolution”, hit the tourism trade and brought with it increased economic uncertainty, leaving the poorest families in a precarious situtation.
Today, unemployment runs at more than 18% and over a million people are living in poverty. Tunisia's young workforce are the worst affected, with nearly a third of people aged 15-24 unable to find a job. The figure rises to 44% of university graduates. All of this leaves families – particularly young families – under increased pressure, with more competition for jobs and more reliance on the still-transitioning state.
Discrimination against women hits single-parent families
Legally, women have equal rights to employment, are entitled to file for divorce and have equal opportunities in education. However, a strongly traditional family code prevails in Tunisian society, meaning that, in practice, single women face discrimination and are among the most vulnerable members of society.
Women therefore remain heavily dependent on men. When mothers are left alone, either through bereavement or divorce, their children often suffer social marginalisation. These women also struggle to find work, due to lack of skills, illiteracy, their social position, their gender, or a mixture of these factors. Poverty is frequently the result, meaning that children from single-parent backgrounds miss out on education and the opportunities they need to succeed.
What are we doing to help?
We have worked in Gammarth since 1983, seeking to bring a better standard of living to the region's most vulnerable children.
Helping vulnerable families provide children with a better upbringing
We give vulnerable families the support they need to live self-sufficiently, ensuring children grow up in a strong, stable environment. We work with local agencies to strengthen Gammarth's existing support networks so people are better equipped to take advantage of the help which is already available to them. We also work with families to provide the skills training they need to find work or begin their own earning initiatives.
Providing the best start in life for children with no one
Some children cannot live with their families, because they have been orphaned, abandoned or simply because their parents cannot afford to look after them. We provide these children with a loving home in an SOS family. In the care of an SOS mother and with ongoing support as they grow up, each child benefits from all the opportunities they need to flourish.
An SOS nursery provides an early introduction to education and is open to children from around the community as well. At the end of their educational journey, young people are invited to join our SOS youth home, where they benefit from pastoral support from our youth counsellors, who run workshops on key topics, including social skills and conflict resolution. This provides a stepping stone to independent living, and we continue to support them as they make the transition to adulthood.
Gammarth may boast sandy beaches and luxury hotels, but the recent uncertainty has left many out of work and living in poverty. We provide children with the start they need to grow and flourish. Please help by sponsoring a child.