Poverty, together with drug use, domestic violence and the migration of parents to bigger cities to find work have resulted in a high level of family breakdown.
Low incomes and a large informal economy
Cuenca is famous for handmade arts and crafts produced in the region. There are 5,000 micro-enterprises registered in Cuenca, a large proportion of which produce handicrafts in leather, silver, and ceramics as well as hats and furniture. Arts don't bring in much money however, and as much as half of the working population of the town are underemployed.
Over 50% of the population are classed as underemployed – or of unknown status. Those belonging to the second category are most likely those people working in the city's lowpaid informal economy. Many families in the city are in a vulnerable position, living hand to mouth.
Parents leave children behind in the search for work
Almost one in five families in Cuenca have at least one member living abroad and sending home remittances. For many families, this is the main source of income. Young women often emigrate alone, leaving children with their extended families to take care of them.
In many cases, these young women hope to save up enough money to bring their children abroad with them one day but often the mothers are working abroad illegally as cleaners or child minders so this is impossible.
What we do in Cuenca
Caring for children: When children cannot stay with their parents, they are offered a loving home in one of our SOS families in Cuenca. Here they grow up in a family environment under the loving care of an SOS mother and attend school in the local community.
Strenthening families: Our social centre offers daycare so that single parents can leave their children in safe hands while they go out to work. We also offer vocational training to give parents' careers a boost, helping to tackle the causes of lifelong poverty.
Supporting young people: Our dedicated programme for young people provides shared, supported accommodation in Cuenca. Whilst living there, the teenagers attend vocational training or further education and receive the support from trained youth counsellors.
We work hard in Cuenca so that every child can enjoy the best start in life. Please help us. Sponsor a child.