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Generations of Poverty: The Struggle of Guinean Children

Guinea is a small country located on Africa's west coast and is rich in natural resources, including some of the largest deposits of iron ore in the world. The country also has an abundance of agricultural resources, which, if handled effectively, could provide the nation with a rich source of funding and strengthen its economy. However, political unrest and a lack of continued investment in the country's infrastructure have meant these valuable commodities have gone largely undeveloped. As a result, nearly half of Guinea's families live below the poverty line, and without help, there seems to be little hope of change.

Endemic Problems

For years, Guinea has tried to harness its resources effectively, and communities across the country have struggled for generations. The social causes of poverty in Guinea are complex, and many families face the same challenges as those living in the world's poorest countries, including underdeveloped infrastructure, lack of access to adequate sanitation and clean water, food scarcity and income inequality. For many Guinean children, health care and education remain out of reach. According to UNICEF, 12 percent of children born between 2006 and 2010 were underweight at birth, while 21 percent of children under 5 years of age were moderately or severely underweight during this period.

Despite ongoing international aid initiatives, there is much to be done before conditions in Guinea improve. Less than 20 percent of the country's population had access to improved sources of drinking water in 2008, and only 11 percent of children and families living in rural areas had access to better sanitation facilities, according to UNICEF.

Serious diseases also pose a significant threat to Guinean children and their families. Approximately 59,000 children were orphaned in Guinea by HIV and AIDS-related deaths in 2009 alone, and malaria remains a serious problem, especially in poorer communities in rural areas. This disease, which can be treated with relatively inexpensive medications, can also be prevented by the use of chemically treated mosquito nets, but only 8 percent of Guinean households owned one of these nets between 2006 and 2010.

Early Intervention

To improve the lives of children in Guinea, it is vital that care, support and education are provided at an early age. ChildFund has worked in Guinea since 2005, and one of the most important initiatives we have undertaken during our time in the country is the introduction of early childhood development (ECD) centers. Since a large percentage of Guinea's children are not enrolled in a formal school program, without these centers, many children would lack the foundation they need to progress into academic programs later in life.

To date, more than 3,340 children have benefited from our ECD centers. In addition, our community empowerment programs have helped more than 530 households better understand how to care for children and provide them with the support they need to lead healthy, productive and fulfilling lives.

On a broader scale, ChildFund has also provided training and health care education to communities affected by HIV and AIDS. By helping community volunteers understand effective treatment options and how to help patients cope with the rigors of living with HIV, many people's lives have been positively affected.

ChildFund is committed to helping children and their families emerge from poverty and work toward a brighter future, but our work would not be as effective without the generous support of our donors and partners. To make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children, please consider making a donation to our Essentials for Survival fund. You can help us provide a family with clean water, healthy food and basic medical care.

 

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