Francistown is a city in the northeast of Botswana and has more than 100, 000 inhabitants. It was founded as a centre for mining and railway transportation over 100 years ago. Mining is still an important source of income for many people.
While the social infrastructure, including education and medical facilities, in and around Francistown is generally good, HIV/AIDS presents a major challenge in the area. Like in other parts of Botswana, the disease continues to pose a threat to the health and stability of many families. Many children have lost or are at risk of losing parental care.
Since 1998, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Francistown.
Francistown, like the rest of Botswana, is heavily affected by HIV/AIDS. Although the situation is improving, many people who are affected by HIV/AIDS struggle to support and care for their families. Thousands of children have lost both parents as a consequence of the virus. In fact, out of 160,000 children without parental care, three quarters have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. These children are particularly vulnerable as they have to fend for themselves, have no opportunity to go to school and thus often cannot escape the cycle of poverty.
Despite significant progress in Botswana's social development, challenges remain in achieving quality education for the majority of the population. Approximately 30 percent of children do not have basic literacy skills after 4 to 5 years of primary education. In addition, between 10 and 12 percent of children who should be in school are currently not enrolled at all. Without education, it is difficult for young people to find employment and break out of the cycle of poverty.