Madreselvas is found on the outskirts north of Chile’s capital city, Santiago de Chile. It is a city with over 6.3 million people. It is the financial and commercial heart of the country and is located at the centre of Santiago Basin valley.
It is a city of contrasts where the people from the north struggle with poverty and survival while those residing in the city centre and to the south are enjoying the windfall that comes from a slowly progressive capital.
In 2010 Chile was in the front pages of every newspaper around the world because of a massive earthquake and tsunami that caused terrible devastation and damage. The earthquake stressed the finances of the government thereby affecting even more the limited budget for social services to the marginalised. The problems trickled down to the people north of the capital city. Three years after the 8.8 earthquake, tourism and investments have bounced back.
Yet around 50% of the residents in Madreselvas live below the poverty level. Being so close to Santiago, the residents of Madreselvas depend on work from Santiago, the copper mines, and surrounding areas. However, the competition for work is intense and those with a superior education usually get the job.
Struggle for a better life
Life is hard for the residents of Madreselvas because they are considered mostly as outcasts - because of poverty and lack of education. Madreselvas is also highly polluted, because of the mines. Trying to scale this big divide for a better life is not easy because the cycle is so hard to break free from. There is too much for the Madreselvas children and their parents to handle without outside help like crime, violence, abuse, poverty, poor health, and no-one to turn to for guidance.
Not only is it hard to get a good-paying, steady job, children are left to fend on their own while their parents are working. This means the children do not get the education they deserve. The opportunities for a better life are not expanding to the poor neighbourhoods. The gap between the people who have and those that don’t continues to widen significantly.
Our Work in Madreselvas
SOS Children's Villages chose Madreselvas as its first venture around the Santiago area. The SOS Children’s Village programme was established in 1967. The problems were evident even then with high poverty and dozens of abandoned or orphaned children. The immediate needs were to get the children to school which was accomplished with the construction of an SOS Nursery, community centre, and library. The primary and secondary schools were state-run and the children under the SOS family programme were placed under these community schools. Natural siblings stay together instead of being placed under the care of different SOS families.
Through SOS Children's Villages, professional counsellors, and 12 SOS families, over 100 children are being provided with proper nutrition, regular health checks, and vocational training once they reach the right age. Over the years, many of the children have opted to pursue a higher education having qualified for scholarships to high school and college.
SOS Children's Villages has been in Madreselvas for nearly 50 years. The success of the programmes are reflected in the young adults who have moved on to better lives but there is still much work that has to be done. Will you sponsor a child today?