SOS Children's Village Tehuacán In Mexico's state of Puebla, around fifty per cent of the population live in poverty. Many families cannot afford sending their children to school due to financial constraints. Parents usually depend on the extra income that their working children generate. SOS Children's Villages has been supporting the vulnerable population of Tehuacán since 1991. Growing up without parental care Singing lesson at SOS Children's Village Tehuacán (Photo: P. Hahn) Tehuacán is the second largest city in the Mexican state of Puebla, located in the country's south-east. More than half the population in Puebla is affected by poverty and social exclusion. Owing to the burdensome socioeconomic conditions that mark the region, thousands of families have a heavy cross to bear. Around 67 per cent of the people in and around Tehuacán live in poverty. Around 18 per cent of them lack access to regular meals. Forgotten by society, they live in shacks without running water, electricity or a proper sewage system. Such high levels of poverty and economic inequality tend to have a strong impact on the mental and physical development of a child. In Tehuacán, many young children grow up without parental care and protection. In order to ease their parents' economic struggle, children often drop out of school and engage in labour activities to help raise the family income. Like in most other parts of Mexico, children mostly find work in the informal sector. They usually shine shoes, sell merchandise or clean car windshields at traffic lights. School enrolment for Tehuacán continues to be very low at 65 per cent and even remains below the state of Puebla's average. Around 9 per cent of the people in Tehuacán do not know how to read or write. For children who do not attend school chances of breaking the cycle of poverty in the future are small. Over recent years, child prostitution has also become a concerning issue in Tehuacán. Although the Mexican government has started a number of initiatives to combat child poverty, the problem is far from being eradicated - at least in Tehuacán. As poverty levels in Tehuacán remain high, many children depend on our support SOS Children's Villages started its work in Tehuacán in 1991 against the background of a growing number of orphans and abandoned children in and around the city. All over Mexico, child rights are violated every day. Tens of thousands of orphaned and abandoned children in the country do not have a birth certificate, which makes them basically non-existent before the law. At the SOS Children's Village, orphaned and neglected children from poor, marginalised families are able to grow up in a dignified, adequate environment together with their brothers and sisters. They receive an education, medical assistance and a lot of affection and love from their SOS family. What we do in Tehuacán Smiling for the camera (photo: C. Martinelli) In Tehuacan, our organisation offers a holistic package of services to assist the population in need. This package includes support to vulnerable families, loving homes for children who would otherwise grow up without love and support, as well as vocational training. SOS Children's Village Tehuacán was implemented by our organisation in 1991. High levels of child poverty and a growing number of orphans were the reason why SOS Children's Villages decided to take action. SOS Children's Village Tehuacán comprises 12 SOS families where up to 108 children can be looked after in a loving home by an SOS mother. There is also a playground, a football court and a multi-purpose hall where children can spend their spare time. The SOS Social Centre offers family strengthening programmes that aim to strengthen existing family ties so that children can grow up in their own family. Mothers are being given the opportunity to leave their children in our child day care centre during the day so that they can go to work and earn an income. SOS Children's Villages has also been running an SOS Vocational Training Centre and an SOS Youth Programme, where children who used to live in an SOS family live on rented premises under the care of qualified youth workers.