More than 40% of Huancayo’s population is under the age of 18 and the majority of these children live in a state of poverty. Many are involved in child labour to help support their families and most are denied the opportunity to get an education and break the cycle of poverty.
SOS Children's Villages has been supporting vulnerable children and families in Huancayo since 2000, providing access to basic social services and education.
Located about 320 kilometres from Lima, the city of Huancayo is the country’s fifth largest metropolis. Huancayo is known as the cultural and commercial centre of the central Peruvian Andes area and has a population of almost 400,000 inhabitants.
The city is known for its crafts as well as the many festivals celebrated in nearby towns. Found in the heart of the Peruvian highlands, Huancayo is home to some beautiful examples of colonial architecture.
Huancayo has attracted thousands of internal migrants over recent decades, many giving up their homes and traditional way of life to seek better opportunities in urban areas. It is estimated that almost 40% of the population have migrated to the city. Employment is not easy to find in Huancayo, and migrants are often forced to take up illegal work in order to survive. It is thought that up to 65% of workers do not have an employment contract, and many work upwards of 60 hours each week, leaving them little time with their children or families. At 35%, poverty is higher than the national average in Huancayo and its surrounds.
Huancayo was one of the centres of the internal political conflict that took place in Peru in the 1980s and 90s. Families were displaced and separated and children were orphaned, leaving many still recovering from the effects of the conflict.
Child labour exposes children to exploitation
Child labour is a common problem throughout Peru, despite the state's attempt to eradicate it entirely. In Huancayo, it is commonplace to see young children selling merchandise, unsupervised, at all hours of the day and late into the night. Children in this position are vulnerable to exploitation, mistreatment and violence, and are robbed of the opportunity to complete their education.
It is accepted that children should work to make a financial contribution to the family’s survival, however it is important to educate parents and challenge these traditional views if children are to break to the cycle of poverty and have a better future.
SOS Children's Villages in Huancayo
We began working in Huancayo in 2000, and has spent more than a decade supporting vulnerable children and their families. The Huancayo SOS Social Centre’s primary focus is its family strengthening programme, which works to ease hardship and provide basic services, allowing parents to keep their families together.
The social centre’s services include medical care for members of the community and a childcare centre, which provides a safe and happy environment for young children while their parents go out to work. The social centre also operates workshops and evening classes for adults.
A caring family home
Many, children who are cannot live with their parents join an SOS families in Huancayo, cared for by an SOS mother.
When children are ready to leave the family home, they can join our youth programme. The programme provides teenagers with shared, semi-independent accommodation, and a qualified counsellor. They are supported to complete their education or vocational training.
Sponsor a child in Huancayo, and give them hope for a bright future.