David is home to roughly 180,000 people and is the capital city of the Chiriqui Province in the far west of Panama, close to the border with Costa Rica. The city has grown steadily over the past few years, as people from rural areas come seeking employment.
Though David's economy depends primarily on the commercial sector for jobs and income, most of the region is economically dependent on agriculture. Poverty remains high and public services are limited, both of which have an impact on children's lives.
Poverty in general is still a major problem in Chiriqui, with about 35% of the population not even being able to afford basic needs, like food and sanitation. It is particularly severe in rural areas, where 90% of the indigenous population are unable to makes ends meet, and has led many to move to David in search of opportunities.
However, life is often just as hard here and peoples livelihoods are equally precarious. In many cases this means that children have to work in order to help support their families, which can often have negative effects on their physical and intellectual development.
Roughly 20% of children in Panama are born to women below the age of 19. These young mothers often come from poor backgrounds themselves and struggle to provide adequate care for their children.
In the worst cases, this can lead teenage mothers to abandon their kids when they are unable to deal with the stress any longer. Children who grow up without a mother are often severely disadvantaged throughout their lives, so addressing this issue remains a major concern.
What do we do in David?
Our work in David began in 1999, in response to the growing number of children living without parental care. Nowadays, our efforts in the region are focused on the Children's Village and the impact it can have on the wider community.
Long-term support for the most vulnerable children
Our 13 SOS families can support over 100 children in permanents homes with a loving SOS mother and SOS brothers and sisters. Here, they get all the benefits of a family life, providing them with the foundations of a happy future as an adult.
When they are old enough and they feel ready, young people from SOS families are supported by the SOS youth programme as they take their first independent steps. Support is provided by qualified counsellors and they are also given accommodation to help them transition into adult life.
In an area where children are often forced to work in order to support their families, we provide support so that young people can enjoy the childhood they deserve. Please help us provide this support. Sponsor a child.