Children who can’t live with their families, find a new home in an SOS family (photo: SOS archives)
The discovery of massive oil deposits in Lake Maracaibo in the early 20th century transformed Venezuela’s economy and had a significant impact on the country's wealth and influence in the global political arena.
However, in recent years Venezuela has gone through many economic, social and political changes.
Many families have been facing difficult moments. The supply of basic services such as electricity, drinking water, and transport has progressively deteriorated. At the same time, the cost of basic foods and goods has risen to such high levels that many Venezuelan families cannot buy them as frequently as they used to in the past.
According to recent reports from the United Nations, an estimated seven million Venezuelans are in need of humanitarian aid. Because of the economic and political situation, an estimated 3.7 million Venezuelans have left the country.
SOS Children's Villages continues to provide support to the most vulnerable.
In spite of these challenging circumstances, SOS Children’s Villages continues to care for children and young people who have lost, or risk losing, parental care. We also support vulnerable families in the communities near where we work.
Furthermore, SOS Children’s Villages is providing support for children and families who have left Venezuela and who are now living in other countries in the region.
As a non-governmental organisation, we are committed to the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and to defending the rights of children to grow up in a safe and caring environment.
Children and young people are at risk
Young men taking part in a workshop on the prevention of HIV/AIDS (photo: SOS archives)
The current situation puts a lot of strain on the over 10 million Venezuelans who are under the age of 18. Vulnerable children and young people have been disproportionally affected by the recent challenges.
According to UNICEF, one in every three children is in need of assistance – that is 3.2 million children who need support so that they can visit a doctor, go to school and get enough to eat.
The availability of medical supplies and staff is decreasing, and this leads to some worrying outcomes. The number of deaths of children under the age of five has increased dramatically in the past few years. Likewise, infectious diseases are on the rise.
Many families have emigrated out of Venezuela to live in neighbouring countries. According to UNICEF, 1.1 million children across the region are in need of assistance. Children who are unaccompanied are especially at risk and require extra protection.
SOS Children's Villages in Venezuela
In Venezuela we support families who are at risk of breaking down and give loving homes to children who have lost parental care.
Family strengthening: The SOS Family Strengthening Programmes started in 2002. We work directly with communities to empower them to protect and care for their children. Collaborating with local agencies and organisations, each family strengthening programme provides different services which can include day care for young children, training so that parents can set up small businesses, and workshops on child protection and health care.
Care in families: Children who have lost parental care can find a home in SOS families in SOS Children’s Villages Ciudad Ojeda, La Cañada and Maracay. Brothers and sisters grow up together and given the support, they need to thrive. In recent times, we have tried to keep life as normal as possible for children, young people and vulnerable families. Whenever it is feasible, children continue to go to local schools and take part in neighbourhood activities which ensures that they are well integrated into the community. If children cannot attend school, then we provide them with educational activities in their homes. We have taken measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the children and their carers.
Support for young adults: Our SOS Youth Programmes provide young people with support until they are able to live independently. Great attention is paid to ensure they receive the right kind of education and training so that they can get a job.