Zárate is located in one of Lima’s most populous districts, with over one million inhabitants. The majority of these people are living in informal housing, without electricity, sanitation or clean drinking water.
Lack of access to basic social services and crippling poverty force children to take to the streets to survive when their parents are no longer able to support them. SOS Children's Villages has been working in Zárate since 1970.
The urban area of Zárate is located just five kilometres from central Lima in Peru. It falls within a district called San Juan de Lurigancho, which, with more than one million residents, is one of the city’s most populated areas.
53% of the district’s population are under 30 years of age, and day-to-day living conditions are precarious for a large proportion of the population who live in extreme poverty. Only 50% of local businesses are formally registered and most people earn a living through informal work on the streets.
The futures of Lima’s children is threatened
Around 60% of children live in poverty. Thousands of these children have lost parental care and often take to the streets in order to survive. Child labour is a widespread and accepted part of Peruvian society and children often take up work such as shining shoes, selling merchandise or washing car windscreens at traffic lights. Peru’s government has implemented programmes to eradicate the worst forms of child labour, but it is still a serious challenge in the country’s capital.
Children involved in informal work have little hope of breaking the cycle of poverty and improving their futures. Children working unsupervised in the streets are vulnerable to exploitation, organised gang recruitment, violence and drug abuse. Without the experience of a secure and happy childhood or access to education, it is difficult for these children to realise their true potential.
Rural migrants have poor prospects
There has been a steady stream of internal migrants leaving rural areas of Peru to look for opportunity and a better life in the capital city. Over the decades, migrants have created informal settlements on the fringes of the city, living in poor housing without electricity, sanitation or clean drinking water. Overcrowding and poor sanitation leave inhabitants at risk of contracting waterborne diseases, and environmental threats, such as flooding, are ever-present.
Giving hope to children in Zárate
The SOS Children’s Village in Zárate was founded in 1970 in response to a growing number of abandoned children as a result of families living in conditions of extreme poverty. Peru is a country of contrasts where on one hand a small minority controls most of the country’s wealth while millions of people live in conditions of serious deprivation, particularly in the country’s urban centres.
SOS Children's Villages has two social centres in Zárate offering support, adult training and basic medical care to more than 88 families. The SOS Social Centres operate a family-strengthening programme that works to alleviate daily hardship to help struggling parents keep their families together. Day care centres make it possible for parents, particularly single mothers, to go out to work knowing that their children are in a safe and happy environment.
Loving family homes
Up to 135 children who can no longer live with their parents are welcomed into stable and loving homes in 16 SOS families. Children have the opportunity to experience moments of carefree childhood as they grow up in their SOS family, cared for by an SOS Mother.
The youth programme gives young adults the chance to experience independent life, while a youth worker helps them acquire the skills they need to live in the community. While learning from this new experience, youngsters continue on to further education or begin skills training if they aspire to work in a trade.
Will you give a child in Zárate a bright future, by sponsoring a child today?