In the north-central area of Michoacán state is the city and municipality of Morelia with a population of approximately 700,000. Michoacán is a hevaily forested area – 60% is forest – and used to attract tourists, but the exploitation of the forests has damaged the ecology and tourist numbers have fallen.
Michoacán has recently been tagged as a “failed state” because of the drug cartels operating there. It has become so dangerous that communities have begun to form their own militia to fight extortion and corruption.
Fighting for the rights of children
The greatest tragedy has been an increase in poverty and children not receiving their basic rights to food, shelter, good health, security, and education. There are thousands of families in Morelia who live in one room shacks without sanitation.
Children are often forced to help parents earn a living or have to stay at home because it is simply to expensive to go to school. Unfortunately, many children turn to crime as the easiest way to earn money. It is very common to see children on the streets selling merchandise or begging. These children find themselves in very dangerous situations, exposed to drugs, the sex trade and abuse.
Crushing poverty leads many to migrate from the rural areas of Morelia to the city in search of a better life. However, life in the city is not much better – the authorities are incapable of providing basic infrastructure and social services. As a result many people live in horrendous conditions, without even safe drinking water.
Children are particularly vulnerable to respiratory diseases and other preventable illnesses because of lack of immunisation and parental care. The illegal settlements they live in are considered "off-the-radar" by many governemnt officials and so never receive the development they so desperately need.
Work of SOS Children's Villages in Morelia
SOS Children's Villages began its work in Morelia in 2006 helping children who lived on the streets. At that time, there were no government facilities offering long-term care for children who had been left to fend for themselves or abandoned by their parents. In recognition of the work SOS Children's Villages were doing, the local government donated land to us.
Today, over 100 children live in our Children's Village in Morelia. They grow up in an SOS family, with an SOS Mother and SOS siblings. These children come from dire circumstances and their childhoods have been defined by poverty, unemployment, drugs and gangland feuds. The children go to local schools with children from the local community, ensuring they retain strong ties with their friends and neighbours. Our Village provides them with a secure environment where they can grow up without having to face the fear of organised crime or a life of poverty.
Support for young people
When they reach their late teenage years, we offer the children in our Morelia Village the opportunity to take part in our dedicated youth programme. This programme is designed to help young people explore their options for the future and build the skills and confidence they need to enter the world of work.
Children in Morelia grow up in a precarious environment. We provide care and hope for the most vulnerable in our Children's Village there. You can start sponsoring a child there today!