September 19 2017

Get to Know an SOS Village in Guinea-Bissau

The small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau is home to three SOS Villages. See the newest of the three, SOS Canchungo, which is home to 108 children. 

A former Portuguese colony located in West Africa, Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world and has been roiled by political instability since its independence in 1974.

In the mid-1980s, the Bissau-Guinean government requested that SOS Children’s Villages establish a presence in the country to address the widespread issue of child poverty. The first SOS Village was opened in the country in 1994, and today there are three SOS Villages that are home to more than 300 orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children.

The newest of the three SOS Villages is located in the small town of Canchungo. There are 108 children growing up in 12 SOS Families, which are led by trained SOS Mothers. There is also an SOS Kindergarten, an SOS Primary School, and an SOS Family-Strengthening Program that supports 150 at-risk families in an effort to prevent family breakdown.

A girl growing up at the SOS Village in Canchungo, Guinea-Bissau, plays on the playground with her friends.


Smiling boy in the classroom at the SOS School in Canchungo, Guinea-Bissau.


 Two girls smile at the SOS Village in Canchungo, Guinea-Bissau, which is home to 108 children.


A view of the SOS Village in Canchungo, Guinea-Bissau, one of three SOS Villages in the country.

Because Guinea-Bissau is such a poor country, children there face many threats to their safety and wellbeing. A major issue is child trafficking and child labor. Although the government has made serious efforts to tackle child trafficking, cases of children who are bought, sold and transported from their homes are reported frequently. Many of these children are trafficked to Senegal and Mali to work in agriculture or are forced to beg. Domestically, the issues of child prostitution and child marriage are widespread.

Other serious issues include: a high under-5 mortality rate, low levels of school enrollment, child-headed households, limited access to clean water and food, and more.