Rio Grande do Norte, Caicó
While Brazil has recently joined the top table of global economies, it still has immense social problems which are particularly prevalent it its poorest states.
Those from struggling families are vulnerable with both parents and children needing help.
One of the poorest regions of Brazil
SOS Children's Village Rio Grande do Norte is in Caicó, a town of 66,000 residents in the north eastern state of Rio Grande do Norte. The area has a hot and dry climate and is frequently subjected to droughts. Tourism, commerce and the service industry are the three main bulwarks of the economy, with subsistence farming in the rural areas around it.
The state of Rio Grande do Norte is traditionally one of the poorest regions of Brazil. President Lula's 'Bolsa Familia' family aid package has helped many families out of the worst privations of poverty, alleviating hardship for 2.2 million people throughout Brazil. Even so, 44% of the population live below the poverty line, nearly half a million in extreme poverty - these cannot make basic needs such as food and sanitation.
Children hit the hardest
Where nationally, 50% of children under 17 are classed as being poor, in Rio Grande do Norte this is nearer 66%. This means that thousands of children live in an environment where it is difficult to have good physical and psychological development due to malnourishment and a lack of education. In the worst instances, children are abandoned and have to fend for themselves due to their family's difficult financial situation.
In the north-east of Brazil, a quarter of children are born to teenage mothers. Where the mothers are from a disadvantaged background, this further impacts on the opportunities of their children. Young mothers may be unable to work and provide for their child. Less than half of children under six in this region are able to attend pre-school or day care.
Our work in Caico
We set up our SOS Children's Village, Caicó in 1978. We run a social centre, have set up a primary school and provide SOS families for children who are no longer able to live with their parents.
The social centre operates a family strengthening programme which aims to tackle poverty in an holistic and sustainable manner. We run a day-care centre and child minding facilities for children so parents can leave their children in safe hands while they go to work during the day. We also address the needs of parents, helping parents with support and workplace training.
SOS Children's Village provides loving homes
For children who can no longer live with their parents, there are several SOS families in our Children's Village, which provide a loving family home and are supported by their SOS Mother. Those children attend the SOS primary school which is now run by the municipality for the whole community, and enables children to form bonds and networks outside the Children's Village.
As they grow up, young people are able to engage with our SOS youth programme which provides shared accommodation to young people while they pursue further education or vocational training. Qualified youth counsellors show them how to take more responsibility and plan for their future as independent adults.