Hohenau was founded in 1900 by German immigrants and is situated in the sub-tropical Itapúa Department of southern Paraguay, right on the border with Argentina. Nowadays, around 11,000 people call this rural area home.
The economy is mainly centred on agriculture, with people growing soya, wheat and cotton and rearing cattle. Most of this farming is done on a very small-scale basis, but the situation is often complicated by the ownership of large portions of land by a few people.
Illiteracy drives generational marginalisation
This system of land ownership has been a major driving force behind the growing levels of poverty in rural Paraguay. It has meant that nearly 40% of people in Itapúa are unable to meet even their most basic needs, let alone make plans for their and their children's futures.
This is evident from the fact that the Department has the highest illiteracy rate in the whole country. This is only being reproduced, since many children from rural families work on the farm rather than attend school. Without an education or even basic literacy, they will find it difficult to participate in the country's economic and political processes.
Poor families in Itapúa also lack access to a whole range of other essential public services. For example, only 5% have access to use proper sewage systems and more than a third live in inadequate housing. Just as worryingly, 94% of the population has no medical insurance, which makes it nearly impossible to get help when they need it.
As it stands, 37% of women have no medical help during labour and 40% of children have no identification to claim medical assistance with. These issues make life for poor families very hard, which will continue to affect children long into their adult lives.
What we are doing in Hohenau
SOS Children's Village Hohenau was the first programme we launched in Panama and began in 1973. Our work has developed steadily since then and continues to focus on giving every child an equal chance at success.
A new home
Our SOS Children's Village provides a loving home to over 150 children in SOS families. These children are get all the benefits of a family life and are able to grow up happy and health with the support of their SOS mother.
When they reach a certain age, children from SOS families will inevitably want to leave home and start their life as an independent adult. Our SOS youth programme offers them support whilst they make this transition and undertake further education or vocational training. They are given shared accommodation and are helped by our qualified counsellors to begin to plan for their futures.
For over four decades, we have provided care for children in desperate need. You can support our work here by sponsoring a child.