Mother holding a small girl, Argentina

Misiones is one of the poorest provinces of Argentina. Situated near the border of Paraguay and Brazil, it is on a favoured drug trafficking route.

The citizens of Oberá struggle to make ends meet. Many young people participate in the illegal economy due to its promise of relative wealth and comfort.

Poverty rate above the national average

Over the last two centuries, Oberá has been a magnet for immigrants from all over Europe and its population boasts lineage from over 70 nations. The economic boom of the 20th century didn't reach Misiones and it now has a poverty rate of 46% - over four times the Argentine national average.

Being a strategic point on many international drug trafficking routes, a lot of Oberá's poorest children find the lure of easy money too attractive and fall into a life of crime - even child prostitution.

Babies for sale

In the face of extreme poverty, there is even a market for unborn children. Mothers in poverty sell their child to traffickers while pregnant and their child is taken away to an uncertain future from the very start of its life.

With extremely high unemployment rates and above average HIV infection rates, Oberá's social indicators are some of the worst in Argentina. Children born into such an environment need a much better start in life than they are likely to face with just their parents for support.

How SOS Children's Villages support the people of Oberá

SOS Children's Villages has been working in Oberá since 1979 - our first Children's Village in Argentina. As such we are very well established in the city and know the problems its children face from hard experience.

Children at the SOS Children's Village Obera, ArgentinaWe ensure the welfare of children from a very early age until they are able to look after themselves in the wide world alone. We start with a 100 capacity pre-school in six classes. These give their parents time to go to work as well as keep their children at home but also prepare the children for life at school.

SOS Children's Villages run a primary school and a secondary school, providing for up to 490 children each. We teach students vocational subjects such as cookery, carpentry, tailoring, IT and bakery amongst several other subjects. These courses are designed to put children onto the best possible path in life when they move onto adulthood.

A new home for orphaned children

For children who have lost parental care, they can live in our Children's Village and find a safe and nurturing environment. In a family environment headed by their SOS Mothers they are able to attend school and play a positive part in their community. Many of our children have gone on to lead successful lives having got over the massive hurdle that being completely alone at an early age brings.

Beyond SOS families, we run a youth programme which offers shared housing in Posadas, the capital of Misiones province. Qualified youth counsellors guide teenagers into young adulthood and help them begin a life that may have been unavailable to them when they fell on the hardest of times.

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