SOS Children's Village Tela SOS Children's Village Tela has actively contributed to the protection and support of vulnerable children and young people in the region since the late 1970s. In one of Latin America's poorest countries, tens of thousands of children face neglect, abuse and precarious socioeconomic conditions as they grow up. Young lives marked by violence and lack of care Welcoming a new member into the house (photo: SOS archives) The town of Tela is located on the Northern Caribbean coast of Honduras. The SOS Children's Village lies just about four km outside of Tela's city centre. In Honduras, children under the age of 15 represent nearly 40 per cent of the country's population. However, the socioeconomic conditions that many of them face as they grow up are precarious. A lack of family support and protection, poor housing, no access to medical services and gang violence mark the every-day lives of tens of thousands of young hondureños. SOS Children's Village Tela was founded after Hurricane Fifi had caused massive destruction in and around Tela, leaving 5,000 people dead and an additional 60,000 without a home. As a result of the natural disaster, many children lost their parents. Our organisation set up provisional shelters to help the people in need and later decided to make a long-term effort by implementing SOS Children's Village Tela. All over Honduras, 150,000 children grow up without parental care. Organised gangs known as "maras" recruit children and youngsters from poor, socially disadvantaged families. As the average age of new gang recruits is falling dramatically, very young children are more vulnerable to being recruited than ever before. Once a child forms part of a gang, he or she usually enters a vicious cycle of poverty, crime and drugs that is hard to break once the child becomes an adult. Child labour also remains a widespread phenomenon both in rural and urban Honduras. In order to survive, children in the region work in agriculture, beg, sell merchandise or shine shoes. Most of them are deprived of a decent education that would eventually provide them with better opportunities to stop the vicious spiral of poverty later in life. Crippling poverty in the Honduran Caribbean makes our work in the region indispensable The Caribbean Coast of Honduras remains marked by high levels of poverty and bad infrastructure. Although the Honduran government has implemented a number of projects to help vulnerable children in Northern Honduras, a great need for long-term alternative care remains. In Tela, many orphaned children live in poverty. Children at an early age head households and are responsible for their younger siblings. Instead of attending school, these children have to work in order to raise the family income. Via our programmes, we have been helping the children of Tela to lead a dignified life. What we do in Tela Children grow up together in a safe environment. (photo: SOS archives) SOS Children's Village Tela comprises 14 SOS families where children can find a loving home. They live with their sisters and brothers under the care of the SOS mothers. In our SOS Youth Programme, young people can live in shared accommodation while they attend a vocational training course or go on to higher education. We make higher education more accessible to children who used to live in one of the SOS families by offering a scholarship programme.