Ipiales

Children from Ipiales, Colombia
In the playground at the Children's Village in Ipiales
Ipiales lies in the Narino department of Colombia and has a population of around 100,000. It is situated high above sea level and is only 2 miles from the border with Ecuador.

Though much of the city's economy is in commerce, a significant proportion is in the informal sector.

Poor migrants find disappointment in the city

Though Colombia as a whole has been making great strides economically, the people of Ipiales often feel left behind by their country's rush forward. A border town and a draw for rural migrants from the countryside, its population is in a constant state of flux.

Rural migrants come to Ipiales in search of a better life. However, this poor city has little prosperity to offer and many end up working on the informal economy.

When a Free Trade Agreement was signed with the USA in 2011, 7,000 people came out on the streets, protesting against what they perceived as a threat to their livelihoods.

A city that never stands still

Because Ipiales is situated near the border with Ecuador and acts as a draw to rural migrants in search of a better life, the city's population never stands still. Many people have been forcibly displaced due to violent conflict elsewhere in the country. Over 100 families arrived in 2002 alone. Child trafficking is an issue as children are smuggled over the border to work. Young mothers have been offered money to give away their babies, and some young children have been sold to traffickers and taken to other countries to work.

Such a fluctuating population means there is less of a community life than other, better established cities. Without neighbours watching each others' backs, young children and often parents are all the more vulnerable.

Child sponsorship Ipiales, Colombia
Smiling faces at the Children's Village in Ipiales

Our work in Ipiales

We opened our SOS Children's Village in Ipiales in 2003. Today, we have a number of social centres in the city which aim to tackle immediate hardship, but also help people escape poverty and ensure children remain with their families. We offer child-minding facilities to parents so they can leave their children in safe hands while working.

Our social centres host workshops on topics such as nutrition and sexual health. We also offer vocational training in a range of skills and trades, enabling people to gain qualifications and improve their employment prospects.

For children who are unable to live with their families, our SOS families provide a loving family environment in the care of our devoted SOS Mothers. They attend school in the local neighbourhood and are encouraged to forge and maintain links with extended family and friends in the community.

As they grow up, young adults are offered places in our SOS youth programme. Living in shared, supported accommodation, they can attend further education or vocational training whilst given guidance at home by qualified youth counsellors.

Our work in Ipiales helps the city's most disadvantaged children benefit from a rich family life and better life chances. Please help us by sponsoring a child.

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SOS Children cares for orphaned and abandoned children in around 125 countries worldwide.