Although poverty is a complex problem with many contributing factors, widespread unemployment and a lack of education and marketable skills are often primary causes. For people living in developing nations like The Gambia, a lack of work can keep families living below the poverty line, as they are unable to provide for themselves and their children. Since 1984, we have worked to empower children and their families, offering skills training to youth and adults living in the poorest areas of the country.
The Gambia has a vibrant tourism industry thanks to its coastal location in western Africa, and it also has a resilient export trade that relies on agricultural production of peanuts and other foods. Despite these advantages, more than half of the country's population lives in poverty, and in rural areas, jobs are few and far between. Without practical skills, many people struggle to find work that pays enough for them to provide for their children.
According to the World Bank, large household size often places great strain on adults to find work that can support their families. In some rural parts of The Gambia, households of more than 11 people are not uncommon. To address this and other problems, the Gambian government has increased public sector spending to place greater emphasis on education, and although this has yielded positive results, there is still a long way to go.
As a child development agency, ChildFund recognizes the importance of investing in education at the primary level, but our initiatives in The Gambia go beyond ensuring that children can attend school. Our youth programs focus on not only helping children attend and complete school, but also offering training programs that teach them skills they can use to find work when they leave the education system. Earlier this year, a group of former sponsored children formed an alumni organization in The Gambia, and many of them are professionally accomplished, fulfilled adults.
Children from families with few resources are often at much greater risk of dropping out of school because of economic pressures. To address this issue, ChildFund works with local partners to identify viable business opportunities in areas with high rates of school dropouts and provide them with the skills they need to find work that pays enough for them to earn a living in a safe and non-exploitative environment.
We have made progress in this area, but to continue to do so, we need your help. Becoming a monthly giving partner ensures that we can help children survive and learn the skills they need to find work and emerge from poverty.
October 10, 2007
8 years old