November 25 2011

Care programmes in Colombia expand

25/11/2011 - On 18 November, another SOS Children's Villages programme was opened in Colombia in the department of Bolivar. Thanks to this new project in Cartagena, reaching out to children in need of alternative care and to especially vulnerable families is now also possible in the seaport on Colombia's Caribbean coast.

Photo: Fernando Espinoza
Neighbours of the SOS families in Cartagena - Photo: Fernando Espinoza
Cartagena, the most important seaport of Colombia with a population of one million, is the seventh location of SOS Children's Villages programmes in the country. Although Cartagena de Indias is one of the safest cities in Colombia, the social problems and tensions are big. More than 40% of the population live below the poverty line, many face extreme poverty.

Concerning the situation of children, there are shortcomings in terms of health care, access to quality education and efficient precautions for the protection against violence, abuse and exploitation. Furthermore, some 40,000 internally displaced people - victims of the on-going conflict between army, paramilitary and guerrilla forces - live in the southern parts of the city; 40% of them are children between 0-14 years.

In Cartagena, there are already 49 children without parental care living in seven SOS families. Once it has reached its full capacity, the SOS Children's Village will be home for 126 children. The SOS Children's Village is fully integrated, which means that in the districts Los Laureles, Los Corales and Nueva Esperanza, already existing family houses were purchased and adapted to the special needs of the SOS families.

The official opening of the SOS Children's Village was celebrated on 18 November, together with the seven families. Representatives of the Swiss donors, of national and local welfare authorities and of SOS Children's Villages attended the inauguration as did families who are supported through various SOS social programmes and whose self-help groups are given counselling and advice in family and educational matters.

SOS Children's Villages is helping more than 6,500 children through social programmes throughout Colombia - from Ipiales in the South to Bogotá and Rionegro.