Cartagena borders the Caribbean Sea and is the capital of the department of Bolívar, with a population of one million. There is economic growth in the area due to industry and tourism.
However, the economic inequality seen throughout the country is clearly evident in a city like Cartagena. Here, poor housing conditions, malnutrition and lack of medical care characterize the daily lives of thousands of children.
Since 2003, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Cartagena.
In 2020, 9,621 Colombian children died before reaching their fifth birthday – a number that reflects the families’ lack of access to basic health care, such as vaccination, medical treatment of infectious diseases and suitable nutrition.
Most under-five deaths are caused by diseases that are preventable or treatable with proven, cost-effective interventions. The vast majority of those children’s deaths globally are due to infectious diseases and neonatal complications.
In Colombia, 7% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 are forced to work. Some of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labor, including commercial sexual exploitation and illegal activities, sometimes as a result of human trafficking.
Poverty and social exclusion often limit the ability of children and young adults to go to school to escape the vicious cycle of poverty.