In 1985 a volcanic eruption decimated the population of Armero, killing all but 4,000 of the 27,000 inhabitants. The municipality of Armero-Guayabal, created after the disaster, is now home to 13,000 people, but this is still far below the figure prior to the tragedy.
The population is very dependent on agriculture, and the region is an important producer of corn, cotton, tobacco, coffee, and rice. However, bad harvests caused by the failure of genetically modified crops threaten peoples livelihoods and scope for self-determination.
Government initiatives that aim to promote micro-enterprises have helped many in the region to escape poverty and make a living for themselves. However, 18% of people here remain unemployed, which is the highest rate in all of Colombia. This raises serious concerns about the prospects of children in Armero-Guayabal.
Widespread poverty and livelihood insecurity have made people's lives very hard, and this in turn effects children's development. As they struggle to make ends meet, parents are often unable to give their children the support, both emotional and practical, that they need to fulfil their potential.
Lack of education and few employment opportunities have limited young people's hopes and aspirations. This makes them easy targets for recruitment by local armed guerrilla movements. Many actually join willingly, since they see very few alternative options available to them.
Proper education and clear career paths that young people can aspire to follow, are essential to overcoming the resignation that many in the region feel. Offering them this hope for the future is essential to keeping them from joining guerrilla groups and putting themselves and their families in danger.
What does SOS Children's Villages do?We began working in the area in 1987, two years after the devastating volcanic eruption. Today, we continue to work with young people and the local community to develop sustainable solutions to the problems they face.
Our family strengthening programme is central to our work in Armero-Guayabal. Through it we aim to create more supportive and nurturing home environments that can better support their children's development.
We offer families resources as well as advice and support aimed at empowering local indigenous people and preventing child abandonment. Empowering families in this way means that change will be lasting and effective.
SOS vocational centre
Our SOS vocational centre is run as farm and teaches young people from the surrounding area the skills they need to make a living from farming. This gives them opportunities for the future, allowing them to break from the cycle of poverty. This support will be essential for providing long term solutions to poverty.
The training we provide teaches them traditional and modern farming techniques for growing fruit and vegetables and keeping animals, such as bees and pigs. We also help them to learn core skills, like reading, writing, and bookkeeping, which are essential for them to earn a profit from the farming skills that they develop.
Do something amazing today, sponsor a child in Armero-Guayabal. Your support ensures that a vulnerable child receives loving care, education and healthcare.