Santa Ana

In class in Costa Rica

Santa Ana is a village which today is part of the growing conurbation of the country's capital, San Jose.

Many wealthy developments have sprung up in the area, including gated communities and luxury apartment blocks.

Rich and poor live cheek by jowl in San Jose

Even with the rich moving in, the very poor have not left. A large number of families live in what are known locally as 'tugurios'; shanties made of whatever building materials their residents can find, from cardboard to sheets of metal and plastic.

This means there is a great social divide in the area. Those who live in shanty towns are stigmatised, creating a glass ceiling which prevents many from escaping poverty. This hampers their outlook on life.

Children's futures hampered by poverty

Along with the physical issues associated with extreme poverty, there are social issues as well. Parents sometimes develop drink and drug problems to cope with their difficulties, and in some cases abandon their children.

Around 10% of children aged between five and 17 work for a living in Costa Rica. In most cases, children that work do not attend school. Without an education, it is harder still to escape poverty. In some urban areas, the school drop-out rate is thought to be as high as 44%.

Our work in Santa Ana

Brothers from Santa AnaIn 1996, we set up a transit centre in Santa Ana in 1996 to provide a home for children in urgent need of care. As well as providing a roof over their heads, we also got these children back into education.

In 2009 we turned the transit home into a full SOS Children's Village, providing permanent homes for children in dire circumstances. Children grow up in SOS families with their SOS brothers and sisters, cared for by an SOS Mother.

Santa Ana has good infrastructure and children from the Village can access a range of facilities in the community, including schools and medical care. They are encouraged to play a role in their community, forming and maintaining social networks as they grow up.

We run an SOS vocational training centre in San Jose, providing a much-needed boost to the job market by offering training for roles within the Children's Village. Graduates may become SOS mothers or staff when they finish training with us.

We ensure Santa Ana's most vulnerable children enjoy the benefits of a happy family life. You can help by sponsoring a child.


Street children are helped by SOS Children in many countries. We help street children by giving them a loving home.