SOS Children’s Villages supports individual children, young people and families so that they can thrive (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Colombia).

Ibagué is the capital of the Tolima department on the central mountain range of the Colombian Andes. Located between Bogotá and Cali, it is home to over 500,000 people and is an important commercial centre. The region is also a significant producer of coffee and rice and has become an increasingly big player in the nation’s textile industry. Despite these economic factors, unemployment remains high at around 15%, and the proportion of people without formal work is large.

Since 1987, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Ibagué.

Children are impacted by civil war

Violent conflict

Although violence in Colombia has subsided following the 2016 peace agreement, armed groups continue to recruit and exploit youth throughout the country. In 2021, some 13,000 children were among those affected by the conflict through displacement. To protect them from the violence of guerrilla groups, children must have the opportunity to stay in school and continue their education so they can break the cycle of poverty, learn a trade, and become independent adults.

Of the population works in the informal sector

Inequalities persist

Only 40% of Colombians have a job in the formal sector. Strict labor regulations and high minimum wages prevent the creation of such jobs, leaving most of the population working in the informal sector in an unregulated environment. In addition, Colombia has one of the largest disparities in the world in technology use: 73% of people with incomes in the top 60% uses the Internet, but only 53% of people in the bottom 40%. For many people, this lack of access to technology prevents them from entering the formal labor market.

Your support makes a difference for children in Ibagué

SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities to offer a wide range of support that is adapted to the local context. We always work in the best interest of the children, young people and families.
Can stay together
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
We support families to stay together. If children cannot grow up with their family of origin, we support them to form lifelong bonds in an alternative family setting (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Colombia).

How your support helps in Ibagué

Strengthening families and communities
When parents face hardships, they can sometimes struggle to give children the care they need. SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities. Each family needs different support so that they can stay together. This support can include workshops on parenting and children’s rights. We also run training so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start their own businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to school.
Caring for children who cannot live with their families
Some children cannot stay with their families, even with additional support. When this happens, they can find a new home in SOS Children’s Villages. Some children live in foster families. The children live in homes in different areas in the city, alongside local families. All the children in our care have access to education and healthcare. Wherever possible, we work closely with the children’s family of origin. If children can return to live with their families, we help them adapt to this change.
Supporting young people to become independent
To help young people become confident and independent, our local team works closely with each young person to develop a plan for their future. We support young people and also help them prepare for the labour market and increase their employment prospects. For example, young people can attend workshops and trainings run by SOS Children’s Villages. They also improve their skills through taking part in different projects with local mentors and businesses.