Malleco Province is found in the region of La Araucania in the south of Chile and has an estimated population of 223,000, made up of 11 communes. The main industries of Malleco are wine, wheat, eucalyptus and forest production. Tourism is another source of income for residents as Malleco, which means “crustaceous water” is where one finds the National Park Naheulbuta; a small park by national standards.
Despite this, Malleco has always been one of the country’s poorest regions, which suffered even more after the 2010 earthquake. Many people died and hundreds of others lost their livelihood and homes.
A child’s life In Malleco
Many children in Malleco are born to poor families. In Collipulli, 11% live well below the poverty line and 37.2% are close to extreme poverty. Other communes in Malleco suffering from extreme poverty are Lumaco (20.5%), Traiquen (18.6%), Ercilla (22.5%), and Los Sauces (18.5%). The figures are higher for those residents who are poor but are able to find relief through temporary or contractual work.
The residents of Malleco often find themselves travelling up to 60 miles to find work as farmers, a job that is seasonal and physically demanding. Others are able to find work in the Malleco vineyards where the wages are low. Their children are often left to fend for themselves. They may skip school, experiment with drugs and become exposed to or involved with the local crime scene.
Earthquake left many vulnerable
The situation turned desperate right after the earthquake of 2010, where panic set in because many of the local shops were damaged or destroyed, as well as facilities like the hospital. In Angol commune, over 600 homes were rendered almost unusable while 400 homes had to be completely demolished as they were unfit for shelter. The earthquake and tsunami caused forest fires and huge losses in ruined crops
Our Work In Malleco
SOS Children's Villages has been in Malleco since 1981. After the twin disaster in 2010, SOS Children's Villages stepped in with emergency relief and rescue operations, especially in Angol. The staff distributed food, clothing and toiletries to over 280 families. They stayed with the families to help them deal with the trauma and grief of losing family relatives or personal possessions.
SOS Children's Villages was also able to establish different emergency programmes which grew into self-sustaining community development and livelihood programmes. SOS staff were around to help locals rebuild their lives and train for new skills so they can find jobs that would provide for their needs. Many locals wanted to leave out of sheer desperation because the infrastructure and arable land in Malleco were brutally affected. With SOS Children's Villages, the threat of migration away from Malleco slowly dissipated as those who went ahead discovered that the problems were widespread and their lives away from home did not improve.
A new family home
There are several SOS families able to care for orphans and abandoned children. Each SOS family has an SOS mother and SOS siblings. SOS Children’s Villages take care of these children until they are ready to either pursue higher education or start working. One of the programmes of SOS Children's Villages is to equip these young adults with skills that are in demand, ensuring higher chances of being hired for the work force. Those who need homes to stay in until they are settled are offered accommodations at the SOS centre.
With SOS Children's Villages, the children of Malleco continue to have a chance to succeed and achieve more than what is expected of them. It’s a chance for them to finally break through the cycle of poverty. Become a child sponsor today, and give vulnerable children in Chile a chance in life.