The biggest city in Ecuador, Guayaquil is the country's economic powerhouse. The port handles 70% of the country's exports and 80% of its imports.
Other than the port, this city of 3 million is an important commercial, political, financial and cultural centre. Wealth has its dark side, and Guayaquil has some of the highest crime rates in the country.
Marginalisation deep in this boomtown
With the support of other organisations, the Ecuadorian government has worked hard to deal with extreme poverty in the country. Even so, economic inequality is the reality for many in Guayaquil.
The city has a large transitory population with many migrants arriving temporarily to engage in labour before moving on. These people live in satellite towns and precarious slums on the outskirts of the city. Because the settlements are unplanned and situated on hillsides, these are susceptible to landslides. Many homes in these areas lack basic amenities such as running water, sanitation or electricity.
A hard upbringing for poor children
Guayaquil has some of the highest rates of extreme poverty in Ecuador. Many people are malnourished and unable to meet basic needs with their incomes. Poverty creates bigger problems - alcoholism and drug abuse amongst parents can leave them unable to look after their children. These children may be sent to work to support the family or in the worst cases, abandoned altogether. In the most disadvantaged rural areas, 20% of children work.
Our work in Guayaquil
SOS Children's Villages works to tackle these issues at root.
Caring for children: We opened our Children's Village in Guayaquil in 2007. Here, children who can no longer live with their parents can find a place in an SOS family. Each family is cared for by an SOS mother, and children attend school in their local communities, forming social networks and playing a part in their wider community.
Strengthening families: Our dedicated family strengthening programmes are designed to keep as many families as possible together. The support we provide includes childminding services which enable parents to leave their children somewhere safe while they attend training or go to work. We also organise educational events for adults in the wider community.
Supporting young people: When the children in our Village our ready to become more independent, we are there to give them support every step of the way. Our specially trained counsellors provide advice and guidance on everything from career options to how to manage finances responsibly.
In a city where crime is high and poverty widespread, we work to provide a better future for children from the most deprived backgrounds. You can help by sponsoring a child today.