Luján, Buenos Aires
After a severe financial crisis in 2001, over half of the nation's population fell into poverty and children suffered the worst.
SOS Children's Villages have been in Lujan since 2008, preventing children from ending up in the worst possible poverty - on the streets, fending for themselves.
Locals affected by failing economy
Lujan is a provincial town about 67km west of Buenos Aires, with a population of 100,000. Its economy relies on cattle breeding, textiles and tourism - pilgrims visit the Basilica Nuestra Senora de Luján, which has a shrine to the Virgin of Luján.
When the economy nosedived in 2001, around half the population of the country ended up in severe poverty. Many lost their savings and had to start from the bottom. Poverty forced many children onto the streets to look after themselves - sometimes from abusive households as parents hid from the world in drink and drugs. Malnutrition in the city became a major issue, as families could not feed their children, who developed conditions that are usually seen in much poorer nations.
No effective safety net for many
As the economy recovered, street children and others at risk of homelessness did not always benefit. Street children are stigmatised as criminals and hated by many in the middle class, who have no sympathy with their plight. There is the infrastructure in government to intervene, and in many cases their social services are successful in ensuring families stay together, preventing children from having to fend for themselves.
That many kids end up on the streets is symptomatic that the system does not always succeed. In 2002, nearly 17,000 children were detained by the police in Buenos Aires province. They were forced into begging and crime, having no support from parents or families to survive.
Early intervention can prevent a child from ending up alone and having to fend for themselves. SOS Children's Villages do this through our work in Luján.
Our work in Luján
Luján lacked an effective safety net when SOS Children's Villages arrived in Luján in 2008. We set up a social centre in the SOS Children's Village which helps families stay together giving advice and guidance in better looking after each other - through self sufficiency parents can better allow for a stable home life for their children. Our services include a childminding centre which allows parents to go to work while we look after their children, perhaps bringing in a vital second income to the family.
SOS Children's Village Luján
For children who are no longer able to live at home, there are several SOS families in our Children's Village, which look after over 100 children who live with their SOS brothers and sisters and are cared for by an SOS Mother.
While living with our families, children are schooled in the community and play active roles in the areas of Luján they live. As they grow up, the children are given guidance into living independently and are given the best possible start in life through the SOS youth programme, and are advised on the major decisions they make as they reach adulthood.
Vulnerable children are nurtured in our Children's Village, so that they become happy and healthy young adults. You can help them to thrive by sponsoring a child today.