SOS Children's Village Iloilo was established in 2003 in the centre of a town called Zarraga. It is in the south-east of Panay Island, with a population of about 22,500 people.
Close by is the city of Iloilo, home to a growing population of half a million. The city is strategically placed and has good infrastructure. Zarraga does not have the same advantages, and many live in poverty.
Child poverty high
In Zarraga, many continue to live off traditional sources of income, such as agriculture and fishing. Many others are unemployed, and consequently families live below the national poverty line. For children, this can mean facing many risks early in life. Malnutrition is high with one in five children in Zarraga suffering. In addition, a lack of access to safe drinking water increases the chance of illness.
When parents struggle to find work, many fail to meet the needs of their children. Nutritious food, shelter and education are out of reach for many children whose parents are unable to support them, making is very difficult to break the cycle of poverty.
Support for local families at risk
Due to impoverished conditions and the high number of children who had lost parental care in the Western Visayas region, we were asked to start working in the area by the government in 2000. We support families to care for their children, as well as provide a loving home for orphaned and abandoned children.
Our family support programme assists families who are at risk of abandoning their children. This involves a range of tailored services including: nutritional, educational and health support, legal advice, awareness-raising of hygiene and child rights, and parenting skill workshops. In addition, the SOS Social centre provides families with essential medical treatment. To best deliver these services, we work closely with local authorities.
Lone children given a new home
If a child is unable to live with their biological family, they can find a loving home in an SOS family at our Children's Village. Here they grow up with their SOS brothers and sisters, and are cared
for by an SOS Mother. Young children go to the SOS nursery along with children from the local community. In Illoilo, the SOS Nursery runs evening courses for people living nearby, and are often designed for girls and women.
As the children grow up and begin their first steps towards independence, they can join our youth programme. With professional support they are helped to attend vocational training courses, complete higher education and start looking for work. They are encouraged to be ambitious, and have informed future plans.
In Iloilo, children and families are vulnerable to the consequences of poverty. When you become a child sponsor, you provide hope for a whole community.