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

The capital of the Coclé province in central Panama, Penonomé has an urban population of 22,000 inhabitants – over 88,000 in the metropolitan area. Located along the southern Pacific coast, Coclé is primarily an agricultural area where most families make a living by farming sugar cane, coffee, tomatoes and corn.

Since 1991, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Penonomé.

Of child labour is in agriculture

Child labour

Panama’s agricultural sector is plagued by child labour. 5% of the country’s children between 5 and 14 years old are forced to work – 69% of them in the agricultural sector specifically. In rural areas such as Coclé, a lot of children work in farming to contribute to the family income. For example, they work in a sugar refinery during the harvest or help with raising livestock. These perilous tasks endanger the children’s healthy physical and psychological development. They interfere with their education, too, and jeopardize their chances later in life.

Of girls are married or in a union before age 18

Child marriages

26% of Panama’s women aged 20 to 24 were married or in union before they turned 18. Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights, and child marriage often compromises a girl’s development – whether it results in early pregnancy, social isolation, or interrupts her schooling. Only 51% of married women in the country are estimated to use a contraception method, and providing for their children can be especially difficult for mothers without qualifications or prospects.

Your support makes a difference for children in Penonomé

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.
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Children and young people spend a lot of time together. They often form bonds which last a lifetime (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Panamá).

How your support helps in Penonomé

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.