SOS Children in Colombia

Sponsorship sites in Colombia

Colombia is the fourth largest country in South America - 441 square miles, four and a half times bigger than UK - and one of the continent’s most populous nations - 44.9 million. It has been ravaged by a decade-long violent conflict, involving guerrilla insurgencies, drug cartels and gross violations of human rights, and is one of the most violent countries in the world, deterring investors and tourists alike. Average daily income is about £4, less than a tenth of the UK daily income

Over one million children between the ages of five and seventeen are working and more than one million have been displaced in the last 15 years. In one year alone, 197 land mine victims were reported, of which 54 were children. A large number of combatants in illegal armed groups are under 18 years old.

The charity began its work in Colombia in 1971 when the country's first community was opened in the capital, Bogotá, not far from the airport. The village has 22 family houses, a community house and workshops where carpentry and tailoring are taught. From ten years of age, the children have daily handicraft lessons which not only help them develop their creative skills but also make it easier for them to choose a trade when older. Vegetables are grown for the village's own consumption, and a bakery supplies all the bread needed.

SOS Children and mother in Columdia

In 1985 a volcanic eruption buried the city of Amero under a sea of mud and led to the charity building its second community at Ibagué, the capital of the province of Tolima and about 30 miles south of the disaster area. SOS Children Ibagué has 16 family houses and two youth houses where boys and girls in their teens can live while they start learning to live independent lives. A kindergarten and primary and secondary schools provide for the children's educational needs, as well as those of children in the local community. The village also has a clinic which like the SOS schools is open to the local people, and a vocational training/social centre with five workshops. Here, young people from both the village and the neighbourhood can learn skills and trades which for many is their only hope of taking their future into their own hands.

The third SOS Children's community in Colombia, SOS Children Rionegro, was built in 1996 in the northwest of the country near the city of Rionegro in the province of Antioquia, comprising 12 family houses. An area of increasing economic importance where many of the country's paper, food and chemical industries are based, it is also the centre of operations for the Colombian drug cartels. Murder is commonplace and many families have left the region to escape the violence, leaving children orphaned and abandoned and in need of care.

SOS Children Columbia

SOS Children opened a community at Bucaramanga in 1999 near the Venezuelan border in the city of Floridablanca, an area of small farms with a tropical climate. Bucaramanga has room for over 100 children in the twelve family houses and a kindergarten.

The charity opened its fifth Village in Colombia in 2003. It is in the small town of Ipides in the south of the country near the border with Ecuador. The local economy is dependent on agriculture and the area has high unemployment and severe poverty. The village has 12 family houses and a kindergarten. Children attend the nearby primary and secondary schools.

As well as long term care for orphaned and abandoned children in Colombia, SOS Children is involved in caring for street children in Bogotá. In 1990 the Nueva Vida project was established to provide children and young adults a temporary respite from the streets with a place to sleep and something to eat, as well as the opportunity to take part in sports and other activities.

The centre is in the San Vitorino district of Bogotá where there are many children living on the streets, with stealing and drug dealing often their only means of survival. Despite the dangers, it was decided to locate the project in this area so that the children would not have to leave their familiar surroundings. Over the past few years, the project has expanded to include vocational training for women enabling them to find work and get off the streets, while their children are looked after in the kindergarten. As well as food and shelter, lessons and classes are provided for street children, many of whom have never had the chance of attending school before.

Local Contacts

SOS Children in Colombia

SOS Children in Colombia:
Aldeas Infantiles SOS Colombia
Carrera 28 No. 94 A-49
Barrio La Castellana
P.O. Box 58 882/ 05 88 82
Tel: +57/1/25 64 208, +57/1/63 48 049
Fax: +57/1/53 36 825

Colombia Child Sponsorship

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