SOS Children in Uruguay
The population of around 3.3 million, nearly 90 per cent of whom are of European descent, live mostly on the coast in urban areas. Migration from rural to urban areas has been the cause of many social and economic problems.
Despite urbanization, the economy is still based largely on agriculture, specifically livestock raising which flourishes on the rolling plains of the countryside. Tourism is also increasingly important with the development of resort areas along the Atlantic coast east of Montevideo, the capital, chief port and economic centre.
Our Work in Uruguay
Uruguay was one of the first countries in South America where SOS Children's Villages were established.
SOS Children's Village Montevideo has 13 family houses and two SOS Youth Homes. At the SOS Social Centre, day care including a hot meal is provided for over 100 children from socially deprived families in the neighbourhood.
We established our second community in 1985 in Salto. The 11 family houses, which are home to 69 children and their SOS mothers, were all renovated and extended in 1999. Two SOS Youth Homes have also been established, one for girls and one for boys, in Salto itself. An SOS Nursery provides pre-school education for 100 children from the community and the neighbourhood, while the older children attend local elementary and secondary schools.
Our third and largest community in Uruguay is in Florida, a small town and well known dairy farming centre, about 100 km north of Montevideo. SOS Children's Village Florida has 15 family houses and an SOS Nursery for the youngest children. The older children attend the local schools in Florida which are easily reached by bus.
Life in SOS Children’s Villages Uruguay: Dreams of a home and a family
Luis is an enterprising young man who lived in SOS Children's Village Salto in Uruguay until he was 17. Several years ago he moved into an SOS Youth Home, where he has shown great strength in building his own future.
Besides his own personal development, Luis has been working on nothing less than building his own house, and this has had an effect on the other youths who live with him. They have also started planning to have their own houses.
Whoever crosses the streets Maciel and Gallino in the Calafi neighbourhood in Salto can see this young man mixing cement and sand, and piling bricks. What people don't know is that he is not an ordinary bricklayer; masonry is not something he does every day. He is just a young man who decided to build his own house.
"When I decide to have a child, I want him or her to have a family be there in his or her own house. It is not easy to build a house, and money is always an issue. You deprive yourself, you don't sleep enough and you cannot allow yourself treats or even think of going out. But it is all worthwhile when you see that the house is rising little by little."
Luis goes on enthusiastically: "I bought the land myself with money that I had saved for years. It is basically the money that my padrinos (sponsors) sent me as gifts during the time that I lived at the village. This [construction] is a learning process because there is so much paperwork: titles, plans and many more things. Paola, my girlfriend, helped me a lot. Together we went to different places looking for the best prices in the DIY stores. I still have all the information in case other youths need it."
Luis Eduardo distributes milk products for a living and works more than eight hours a day. All his free time goes into making his dream a reality.
"I never met my parents and my relatives are far away, but I would've liked to share this moment with them," he says wistfully. "Experience has taught me to get as much out of life as possible. You need to take advantage of the energy you have while you are young to fight for your goals."
Luis's smile and the emotiveness with which he tells us about his experiences clearly reflect his satisfaction and pride at being able to build his own home. He is charismatic and responsible, and all who know him are proud of him.
Oficina Nacional SOS Uruguay
Daniel Muñoz 2291
Tel: +598/2/400 23 53
Fax: +598/2/400 2353