Santiago de los Caballeros
With around 20% of all working children in the Dominican Republic working in Santiago de los Caballeros, the city has major issues that SOS Children's Villages is working with authorities to address.
Santiago de los Caballeros is the country's second biggest city and is in the north of the country, near the Haitian border. It has around 1.3 million residents, around 40% of whom live in poverty.
Massive population growth leads to increased poverty
Santiago de los Caballeros is in the fertile Cibao Valley and as such benefits from its agricultural economy, and has a growing service and tourist industry as people from abroad come to sample the city's charms.
Traditionally Santiago has relatively low rates of poverty but the draws of the visible wealth in the city has encouraged migration from within the Dominican Republic and across the border from Haiti.
Children working to help families and themselves
It is estimated that 20% of all child labour in the Dominican Republic takes place in Santiago del los Caballeros. Over half of the children who work are between five and 13 years old. Those who work don't always attend school, which is seen as a major way of escaping the privations of poverty.
In some cases, impoverished families give their children to other families to get the children a better life by working for food and accommodation. This opens the children to exploitation such as sexual abuse. Many working children in these circumstances do not attend school.
Child trafficking across the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti is a major issue and has increased since the earthquake and hurricane of 2010. Parents often give their children away because they cannot afford to look after them and believe that the child will do better with a wealthier family. This isn't always the case and children often suffer as a result.
How we help in Santiago del los Caballeros
SOS Children's Villages has often given emergency relief in natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes that impact the island, helping authorities look after the needs of families and children in crisis.
Our SOS Children's Village in Santiago de los Caballeros is the newest project we have opened in the Dominican Republic. Opened in 2003, it gives a loving home to up to 150 children in 15 SOS families who are cared for by SOS Mothers in a nurturing, family environment. These children have lost parental care, and many are orphans. Children attend school in the local community, building and forging networks outside that will hold them in good stead into the future.
As they grow up and need more independence, young people with us can engage with our SOS youth programme in Santiago. Living in shared, supported accommodation they are able to attend further education or vocational training whilst being supported by qualified youth counsellors as they make decisions critical to beginning life as an adult.
Will you help to make a difference to the children of Santiago de los Caballeros? All you need to do is start a child sponsorship today.