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

Colón, capital of the province of the same name, lies at the entrance of the Panama Canal on the Caribbean coast. 78,000 inhabitants live in the city – 242,000 in the metropolitan area. With its international port and the Colón Free Trade Zone, it is the economic heart of the country. That economic development, however, does not benefit everyone equally. Despite strong poverty-mitigation efforts, Panama remains an unequal society where the poorest 20% consume only 4%. Children, young people and families need support so that they can improve their lives and stay together.

Since 1998, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Colón.

Of young people have not completed higher education

More chances for young people

The educational prospects of children and young people in Colón need to be improved. On average, those aged 20–24 years who live in the Colón province study for 10 years Young people need to be given more support so that they can complete higher education. The national completion rate in Panama is 22% – however, in the Colón province, only 15% of people aged 25 to 29 have completed at least two years of higher education. This shows the lack of educational access, social progression, and professional opportunities that are available to local students.

Of the land area is below 5 metres

Risks of climate change

With 2,490 kilometres of coastal land and 2 per cent of it below 5 meters, Panama is very exposed to any increase in sea level – particularly in harbours like Colón. This is one of Panama’s vulnerable areas, due to the risk of flooding of low zones. Vulnerable populations will be the first affected by the consequences of climate change. More frequent and intense storms, floods, and droughts cause huge economic losses and affect the livelihoods of the communities with fewer resources. Children, young people and their families need extra support so they can be prepared for these crises.

Your support makes a difference for children in Colón

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
Brothers playing in the garden. Growing up together, children in our care often form bonds that last a lifetime (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Panama).

How your support helps in Colón

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. Here the children can build safe and lasting relationships. 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.