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In December 1999, Venezuela was hit by torrential rain. As a result, SOS Children's Villages set up an SOS emergency relief programme, which lasted for four months. People were given medical supplies, tools and household implements and were also helped in their search for missing relatives … more about our charity work in Venezuela

SOS Social Centres in South America allow dreams to become a reality

SOS Social Centres in South America allow dreams to become a reality

SOS Children offers social centres to help vulnerable families, especially women and children, escape poverty. In the Americas, SOS Children runs 110 social centres.

Here we take a look at two children in South America – one from Peru and another from Venezuela – who benefit from SOS Social Centres. First we look at Luana, a five-year-old girl from Peru who has a safe place to play and learn. Then we journey to Venezuela, where an SOS Social Centre allowed a single mother to obtain her degree. 

Providing a safe place for children

At the SOS Social Centre Callao in Lima, Peru, five-year-old Luana is playing with brightly-coloured toys in the courtyard. She is one of 110 children who spend their mornings at the SOS Social Centre.

The centre has five classrooms which surround a courtyard lined with brightly painted pillars. The SOS Social Centre offers children a safe place to play and learn while their parents are at work. Most of the children who come to the centre are raised by singles mother. In Peru, the rate of abandonment by fathers is high in poor communities. In addition, according to the World Bank, 23.9% of the 30.3 million population lives below the national poverty line.

When you walk into Luana’s classroom, you are greeted with a warm: “Good Morning,” as the children practice their English. In the other classrooms, children are busy colouring, listening to music or learning about computers. The rooms are lined with posters that remind children to clean up after themselves and say please and thank you.

SOS Social Centre Callao, Peru, children playing
The SOS Social Centre Callao has a courtyard where children can play outdoors and get exercise

The playful toddler and her older brother are currently living with their aunt as their mother left Peru for work. According to the World Family Map, approximately 51% of children in Peru live with adults besides their parents.

Keeping children healthy

The centre also teaches children in the surrounding neighbourhoods about health and nutrition. Local health officials regularly provide checkups and the center works with parents to prevent malnutrition. Children munch on fresh fruit throughout the day and they will soon be able to eat vegetables from the centre’s garden.

Not growing up with her mother has been though on the Lunana, but she is already planning a bright future.

“When I’m bigger, I want to play with my friends,” she says. “Or become a nurse.”

Allowing parents to gain an education

Three children are eating at the day care in Lucmacucho, Peru
The SOS Social Centres provide children a safe place to play and learn

Axllan was just 11 months when he first came to the SOS Social Centre in Turmero-Maracay, Peru. His mother, Siolimar, was struggling to care for him while working and studying. She is single mother and had no relatives nearby to offer support.

"I tried to attend my classes with Axllan, but it was not working,” she says. “Then, a friend told me about the social centre and I went in to see if they could help us.”

“The centre gave me the chance to qualify for a career and raise a happy son, knowing that he was in a safe place,” says Siolimar. “We are so grateful that the centre gave us this help – we could never have afforded private childcare.”The social centre assessed the family and offered Axllan a place in the programme.

Today, Axlann is a happy four-year-old who is starting preschool and his mother has completed her education.

SOS Social Centres

SOS Children runs 634 social centres worldwide. The centres work directly with vulnerable families to empower them to effectively protect and care for their children and to prevent separation. The centres work to ensure families and young people become resilient and break the cycle of poverty.

Find out more about SOS Children’s work: