Sponsor a child in Colombia
SOS Children has worked to help children in wartorn Colombia since 1971. Conflict has raged within Colombia for half a century, forcing families from their homes and into poverty. Many Colombian children are abandoned by parents who cannot afford to support a family. Often, orphaned and abandoned children are forced into a life of crime or back-breaking labour. Many are recruited as child soldiers, facing assassination, mutilation and sexual abuse.
You can help orphaned and abandoned children in Colombia by sponsoring a child online now with SOS Children:Sponsor a child in Colombia
A country ruptured by half a century of conflict
Over the past fifty years, war has brought murder, torture, civilian kidnappings and fear to Colombia. One in ten people living un Colombia today have been uprooted from their homes and livelihoods and forced to move elsewhere. As a consequence, poverty is high, and it is thought that nearly half the population lives below the national poverty line. Huge gulfs exist between conditions in the city and those in the countryside. While in urban areas, water and sanitation are adequate, in rural parts, nearly half are without clean drinking water.
Children without a home
Though the situation may be better in the city, many children live on the streets, eking a living from begging, labour and crime. Of the huge numbers that are orphaned or abandoned, many are recruited by street gangs which specialise in violence and drug abuse. Children who still have their parents often end up working to support the entire family, perhaps washing car windscreens, selling merchandise on the street, or collecting reusable items from waste tips. Children are not safe from the war. Thousands of child soldiers are trained to kill or be killed in Colombia's internal conflict. Many face horrific mutilation or death. Others are the victims of sexual abuse or kidnapping.
Our Work in Colombia
Today, SOS Children supports hundreds of children in Colombia. We house orphaned and abandoned children in our Villages, and support families in the wider community. By offering children a loving family and somewhere secure to live, we help them succeed in adult life. Through vocational and academic training, we are breaking the cycle which has trapped generations in poverty and creating a better life for many of Colombia's children.
In 1971, we opened our first village in Colombia, in the country's capital of Bogota. Poverty is worse here than in many Latin American cities, and the link between poverty and child labour is strong as families rely on the extra income to survive. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty, with income dropping substantially for every year of missed education. Our Family Strengthening Programmes keep families together, helping parents earn a decent wage while their children benefit from day care.
The Nueva Vida helps take children off the street. In the short term, it gives children and young adults temporary respite from the street, with a place to sleep and something to eat, as well as the opportunity to take part in sports and other activities. This centres on 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. As well as food and shelter, lessons and classes are provided for street children, many of whom have never had the chance to attend school before.
In 1985 a volcanic eruption buried the city of Amero under a sea of mud and led us to build our second SOS Children's Village in Ibagué, the capital of the province of Tolima and about 30 miles south of the disaster area.
The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School provides primary and secondary education for children from both the Village and the wider community, ensuring our children remain very much a part of Ibagué society. A clinic at the Village is also open to local people, helping to maintain a healthy community. Likewise, children from the Village and the community at large learn side by side at our vocational training and social centre. Here, they develop the skills and trades necessary for a secure future.
Our work in Rionegro began in 1996. Out in the community, our Family Strengthening Programmes work to hold families together, helping parents manage financial hardship without abandoning their children. With our help, many young mothers have been able to enter work and support their children, ensuring that these young people grow up in a loving family setting and enjoy a better childhood. Parents are able to earn a living while their children are looked after at our day-care centre.
Our SOS Youth Programme gives young people a sense of purpose in life, offering training or the opportunity to benefit from higher education. Qualified staff guide young people in their intellectual and emotional development, helping them learn to shoulder responsibility and take the important decisions necessary in successful adult life.
Our Village in the Venezualan border city of Floridablanca has been active since 1999. Where violence in the home or poverty has so often led to child abandonment, our Family Strengthening Programmes hold families together, allowing children to enjoy schooling, friendship and play while their parents earn a living. We provide daycare to parents so they can go out and work, their children in safe hands. We also help mothers and fathers learn the skills they need to provide good parenting to their children, offering training and support on children's rights and appropriate parenting for different age groups.
In 2003, we opened our fifth Colombian Village in the small town of Ipiales 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. In the community, childminding and daycare allows parents to earn a living while their children spend the day in safe hands. Our SOS Youth Programme enables children to learn a trade or go on to higher education, ensuring a better future for Ipiales. We also support women in the community, providing them with vocational training to help boost their income.
SOS Children's Village Cali opened in 2009. It has 14 family houses and includes an SOS Social Centre that runs a Family Strengthening Programme.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Colombia: Marco's Story
Marco, now an independent young man, grew up in SOS Children’s Village Bogotá: “The most unexpected thing for a child is to lose your mother. Such innocence came out of me when I lost my mother, when I was only five years old.
"At that moment, to arrive in this green palace, SOS Children's Village Bogotá, gave me the necessary peace and tranquility to go ahead. I still remember my first image of the village. I think all the children who have lived in this village remember it... When I arrived ... I first saw the park, a beautiful green park with a nice playground. In my short life of five years, I don't remember having been to a park.
"My stay in the village was something particular. I always loved the green areas around the houses. It was like magic.
"Today, I have a job. I just finished my studies of social communication and journalism and this is something that makes me feel very satisfied. My story of growing up in the village is something I appreciate and acknowledge in every respect. My love for this place is so great that today I would like to go back to be a child. Not only do the people but the gardens themselves continue calling me..."
Aldeas Infantiles SOS Colombia
Cra 45A No. 94-87
Barrio La Castellana
058882 Bogotá D.C., Colombia
Tel: +57/1/634 80 49
Fax: +57/1/533 68 25