Child from Bucaramanga, Colombia

Though Colombia has made significant strides in reaching its Millennium Development Goals in 2015, the armed conflict within the countryside continues to displace many families.

Bucaramanga,  near the Venezuelan border, is a relatively safe region and many internally displaced migrants arrive in search of safety there.

Children vulnerable to poverty

A large metropolitan area in the north east of Colombia, Bucaramanga has a population of around half a million. Floridablanca is a large city in its own right with 260,000 residents but is part of the Bucaramanga metropolitan area.

The region, Santander, has one of the lowest rates of poverty in Colombia but such improvements in quality of life have yet to reach everyone. Due to the armed conflict in other parts of the country, internal migrants seek a life of safety in the city.

It is estimated there are 36,000 internally displaced migrants in Bucaramanga, around half of whom are children. Those who experienced violence and murder tend to have acute psychological trauma, losing a sense of identity, social cohesion and self-confidence.

Families arriving from conflict-torn areas

Though the government recognises the problem and has put some programmes in place to help them, there is insufficient support for people escaping the conflict. The infrastructure hasn't been put in place by authorities to cope with this influx of traumatised migrants.

Those arriving have frequently left everything behind and are often very traumatised. Unemployment and illiteracy in this social group are relatively high, especially for women. Those in such situations struggle to look after their children.

SOS Children's Village Floridablanca-Bucaramanga

Child Sponsorship BucaramangaThis Children's Village has been active since 1999. We run a number of social centres across the metropolitan area, which aim to reduce hardship in the community in a holistic and sustainable way. We offer child-minding programmes that enable parents to work while the children are in a safe and nurturing environment. Such programmes are particularly aimed at children under 12 and from difficult backgrounds, for instance those who have escaped armed conflict elsewhere within Colombia.

The social centres also offer vocational courses to adults to improve their professional skills - in turn boosting their career prospects. We also offer support and training in parenting skills and children's rights.

A new loving home for orphans

Where children can no longer live with their parents they can join an SOS family and grow up in a loving, family environment. Whilst in our care children are encouraged to forge and maintain links with extended family and the community, and attend school in the neighbourhood.

As children grow up and need more independence they are able to engage with our youth programme while attending further education or vocational training. This is in the form of supported, shared accommodation where the young adults are given guidance as they make important decisions as to taking the right path in life.

Many children in Bucaramanga had a tough start in life, and moved to the area in search of safety and security. Will you help the most vulnerable children to have a loving home to grow up in, by becoming a child sponsor today?


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