Cartagena de Indias

Children from Bogota, ColombiaCartagena de Indias is the capital of the 'Bolivar' department, and has a population of around 900,000. The city boasts beautiful colonial architecture and sunny beaches, which have made it a major tourist destination. 

This has only served to make the inequality in the city even more pronounced, as poverty continues to blight the lives of many inhabitants. Tourism has also brought problems, and these can have a major impact on many children's lives.


Around 500,000 people in and around Cartagena de Indias continue to live in poverty. Housing is poor, child undernourishment is widespread, and there is a lack of medical attention available for those who need it. This has severely limited the development of many children throughout the region.

These problems are particularly clear amongst the many people displaced by internal conflict, who struggle to fit into the communities where they settle. Around 40,000 of these displaced people are below the age of 14 and their wellbeing is a prime concern for SOS Children. 

Problems with tourism

The millions of tourists that flock to Cartagena de Indias bring money, but this influx has also led to the rise of the sex industry in the city. This still persists despite the best efforts by the government to curtail it. 

Most worryingly, an estimated 1,500 children are involved. These children mostly come from poor families, whose precarious socioeconomic position make their children particularly vulnerable targets. Addressing this poverty as the root cause of child prostitution will be essential to overcoming this problem. 

What does SOS Children's Villages do?

SOS Children's Villages started work in Cartagena de Indias in 2011 in response to the growing numbers of orphans and high levels of child abandonment. We have continued to work with the most marginalised communities to give all children a bright future. 

Sponsor a child in ColombiaHope for local families

We believe that all children deserve to grow up with dignity and the opportunity to succeed. To ensure that this is the case, we offer advice and practical support to families that can help them overcome the challenges of poverty and provide for their children. 

Our day care centre gives working parents a safe place to leave their children and helps them to balance care and work responsibilities. The advice that our trained counsellors offer helps to strengthen families and gives every child the opportunity to succeed. This will be essential to combating poverty in the long term. 

A new loving home

SOS families in the region offer a loving home to nearly 50 children who can no longer stay with their parents. They live together with their brothers and sisters and receive an education, medical care and lots of love from their SOS mother. The family houses are integrated into the local neighbourhoods so that the children are able to develop and maintain real connections with their community. We also support foster families in the local area. 

The caring home environment we strive for ensures that even those who have been orphaned or neglected are able to flourish and achieve all that they can. Every child has the right to a bright future and we aim to ensure that they all have this chance.    

Fragile families and lone children are supported to lead a better life with our services. Will you sponsor a child today, and help to transform a young life?


Pakistan’s children: Sponsor a child in Pakistan, where natural disasters in recent years have left many children vulnerable.