Mallasa, La Paz
La Paz is one of the most socially divided cities in the world. Though there are many who live in comfort, over a million inhabitants of the city live in extreme poverty.
SOS Children's Villages have a presence in the city, trying to ease children out of poverty.
A city of inequality
La Paz is Bolivia's administrative capital and is the second biggest city in Bolivia, with 2.3 million residents. A mountain city, its lowest point is 3000 metres above sea level and its highest point is 4100 metres above sea level. La Paz is the biggest manufacturing city in the country, producing everything from tobacco to tools. Alongside the formal economy there is a large informal economy with workers hawking anything from sweets and cigarettes to their bodies.
Though there is a wealthy elite and sizeable middle class that live in comfort around the traditional city centre, 42% of the population live in extreme poverty, with minimal sanitation, running water or access to healthcare and education.
Though access to primary schooling has improved over recent years, it is normal for families in poverty to send their children to work to support the family. Around 42,000 children do not attend school in the city.
Beginning work early in life, children are vulnerable to the dangers of the streets. Large numbers become alcoholics at an early age, and many develop drug problems. Those without loving families end up on the streets. There is a phenomenon known as 'street families' where young mothers with no education, employment or training bring up their children on the streets.
Such privations can seriously hinder a child's development and prospects. SOS Children's Villages do everything we can to give youngsters their childhood back.
What we do in Mallasa
SOS Children's Villages arrived in Mallasa, a district of La Paz, in 1983. We run four programmes from our Children's Village in Mallasa: a social services programme, a vocational training centre, a youth programme and SOS families.
SOS social centres offer community programmes to help families stay together. Taking an holistic approach to individual families, we support them in improving their income, sometimes in the hope of no longer needing their children to work. We also offer a child-minding programme which allows working parents to earn their living safe in the knowledge their children are being well cared for.
Our SOS vocational programme helps people of all ages improve their prospects on the job market. The centres offer courses in graphic design, carpentry, printing, tailoring, electrical engineering and mechanics. We also have a centre which focuses exclusively on training girls who receive, for example, training in office work and IT.
SOS Children's Village
In our Children's Village in Mallasa, there are several SOS families which look after over 100 children who are unable to live with their own families. Children are cared for by SOS Mothers and attend school in the community, and remain integrated with the community as they take their second chance in life.
As those children get older they need more independence. We run an SOS youth programme of shared housing, allowing the young adults to pursue secondary or vocational education while being given the best guidance possible to live independently and self sufficiently in the future.
From nursery to adulthood, we support vulnerable children who have lost parental care. Will you sponsor a child today, and ensure they have a bright future?