Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is a city of contrasts. Although wealthy from the country's oil wealth, costs of living are high and a quarter of the population live in relative poverty.
Since 2000, SOS Children has been supporting vulnerable children and families in the region.
Families in search of a better life
Baku is home to two million people, and is still growing. As the political, economic and cultural capital of the former Soviet Republic, it attracts new families all the time who are in search of a better future from the country's oil and mineral wealth. Newcomers to Baku also arrive because of conflicts in other parts of Kazakhstan.
The city appears wealthy from the oil in the country. Those who succeed can do very well in life - those who fail may end up unemployed without state support or in casual work with no guaranteed long-term income.
Those in poverty are ghettoised in run down communist era apartment blocks, the cheapest and most difficult places to live in the city. Relative to other parts of the country, Baku has better access to social, health and education services. However the authorities struggle to cope with the high rates of need of those who don't achieve their dreams - only a small number of those without work get state support.
Children at risk
Many children are abandoned due to their families' inability to look after them, and many more suffer malnutrition. Those who are abandoned tend to end up in state run orphanages.
In 2000, SOS Children were donated some land 14km outside the centre of Baku. Today we provide social, healthcare and educational support, as well as SOS families for children who can no longer live with their families. We intervene in the first instance to prevent the breakup of the families.
How do we help in Baku?
In ensuring families stay together, we give children the best possible start. To achieve this we give parents advice on how to get a better job, and how to better care for their children. We run a playbus which goes to tower blocks, local parks, hospitals and orphanages. We give teachers guidance as to how to do their work better, and ensure the whole system improves to help kids in poverty get a better chance in life.
SOS Children also run a nursery in Baku, which enables parents to go to work safe in the knowledge that their children are being cared for properly.
In SOS Children's Village Baku, up to 91 children are cared for by several SOS families in Baku. These are an alternative to state-run orphanages. Children go to their local schools and engage with their communities. When they reach an age where they can leave their families, we offer an SOS youth programme which gives accommodation, guidance and counselling for young people to try to get ahead in life.
Sponsor a child in Baku today, and give vulnerable children a better chance in life.