Montego Bay

Jamaica is a proud nation characterised by a strong sense of cultural identity. Well-known figures such as Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey or sportsman Usain Bolt have made this laid-back Caribbean island popular all across the globe. However, the image that is often portrayed in the international media contrasts with widespread poverty, unemployment and high crime rates. SOS Children's Villages has been supporting the country's young people and children since the 1970s.

In recent years, the number of people living in precarious conditions in urban areas has actually been on the rise. While reductions of poverty and malnutrition have been achieved, the distribution of wealth in the country has barely changed. Likewise, when it comes to gender equality and child and maternal mortality rates, there is still a long road ahead.

Another great social problem in the country is the high incidences of violence, which takes place mainly between young males from poor backgrounds. Of the young people between the ages of 15 and 24, around 26 per cent of the males and eight per cent of the females are illiterate. Approximately 30 per cent of all young people do not attend school or training and do not have a job. This group is very vulnerable to getting involved in a life of crime, as they may feel that they have no options in life.