Cochabamba in Bolivia is a city of contrasts. It has one of the richest suburbs in the country but also has one of the poorest. Even though it is an economic powerhouse for Bolivia, people live in grinding poverty.
SOS Children's Villages have been there through thick and thin since 1968.
Over 32,000 orphans
Though one of the richest cities in Bolivia, Cochabamba has also some of the worst poverty in the whole country. To be both extremely wealthy yet to have 32,000 economic orphans in the city suggests that the gap between the rich and poor is very wide indeed.
The city is Bolivia's main car manufacturer but also sits on very productive agricultural land, producing everything from coffee to tobacco and potatoes. Those who can access such skilled employment can do very well for themselves.
Not far from the mansions of Cercado, the slums of Vila Vila have no drinking water sanitation or easily accessed education and healthcare. Children bear the brunt of it, and have to grow up in a very tough economic environment. Mostly abandoned by their parents, 32,000 children grow up without parental support. Though many are housed in orphanages, a sizeable number have to fend for themselves on the streets - it is estimated that 4000 do across Bolivia.
Extreme child poverty
Those who live at home often have to work, rather than go to school, to support their families. Those who work may be exposed to dangerous machinery and toxic chemicals such as pesticides. Instead of going to school, these children may work 50 hours a week from a very young age. This impacts on the development of their brains and bodies.
Child malnutrition is endemic in the city. It is estimated that 30% of children in Cochabamba have anaemia brought on by malnutrition. Nearly 20% are chronically undernourished.
SOS Children - Here for Decades
The Founder of SOS Children Hermann Gmeiner was in Bolivia when he met an Austrian nun who had been working in Bolivia for many years. She suggested renovating the Gota de Leche orphanage. Gmeiner got involved and turned it into the first SOS Children's Village in Bolivia, in 1968.
What we do in Jordán
SOS Children's Village Jordán is in Cochabamba. It is now comprised of several SOS families where over 100 children are cared for in a loving home by an SOS Mother. Children go to school and play an active role in the community.
As they grow older, young adults are enabled to live in a shared house together while attending further education or vocational training. Some even go onto higher education. Qualified youth counsellors guide them as to their best path in life, and teach them to shoulder responsibility, phasing out into the adult world and learning to be fully independent.
Due to the high rate of orphans in Cochabamba, SOS Children's Village Jordán reached capacity in 1994. As a result we set up another children's village, SOS Children's Village Cochabamba - Tiquipaya in 1995 to further reach those in the community in most need.
Since 1968 we have given orphaned children in Cochabamba a nurturing family home and all the support they need to flourish. Will you help us continue our work, and sponsor a child today?