Vast improvements have been made in Antofagasta in recent years: the city has the lowest poverty rates in the country, a high quality of life and income and a high literacy rate.
However, many families have yet to benefit from the region's forward growth. While parts of the city prosper, others are left in poverty.
City of contrasts and inequality
Antofagasta, rests in the Atacama Desert and is bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean. The city, with its population of nearly 300,000 people, has a very high cost of living - the second highest in Chile after Santiago - but also a high per capita income.
It is a well-developed city, with large malls and shopping complexes, condominiums and apartment buildings, but more dismal sights appear the further from the city centre you travel.
Children and women endangered by poor living conditions
Shacks and slums dominate the outskirts of Antofagasta. Antofagasta has the lowest poverty rates in the country. However many families still live below the poverty line despite the region's wealth. A sharp social contrast exists: while only 4% of people aged 45 to 59 are impoverished, nearly 12% of women and children struggle to get by. Female-headed households often do not make enough to remain out of poverty and children born to these households risk starting life with this economic disadvantage, which limits their future prospects.
Child labour and prostitution - despite the government's attempts to eliminate them - exist in the region, as well as high youth unemployment. Families often live in situations that put them at risk of falling apart. Children risk abandonment when families break apart or experience hostile households which cause them to run away from home. They live on the streets, and survive through begging, petty theft and random unstable jobs like shining shoes.
How we help in Antofagasta
SOS Children's Villages began work in Antofagasta in 1987. Today our social centres offer programmes aimed at strengthening families so that households can stay together and children can remain with their parents. Our day-care nursery allows working parents to leave their offspring in safe hands during the day.
SOS Children's Village
When children have lost parental care, they can find a new loving home in our Children's Village. Here they belong to an SOS family, where they have new SOS siblings and an affectionate SOS mother to care for them. Although the children live in SOS families, they still attend local schools and remain in touch with the surrounding community.
As these children grow into young adults, they move on to the SOS youth programme. Staffed by qualified teachers and counsellors, the programme provides additional education and training in technical vocational skills. The young people are taught skills for their futures, educated to take on their responsibilities, and prepared for an independent life.
Young people in Antofagasta thrive when they receive all the support they need. By sponsoring a child, you ensure that a young life will flourish.