SOS Children's Village Maracay SOS Children's Villages has been providing support to vulnerable children, young people and families in Maracay since 2000. The lives of many families in this northern industrial town are marked by daily struggles to provide for their children, and keep them safe from drugs and violence. Children roaming the streets instead of going to school Children who have lost parental care find a loving home in an SOS family (photo: SOS archives) Maracay is a city of 1.7 million, located in north-central Venezuela, not far from the Caribbean coast and about 100 kilometres west of Caracas. Much of the country's population continues to live a life in extremely harsh and challenging conditions. In Maracay, numerous children live on the streets. Some of them sleep in or near the Maracay Central Terminal, where they beg for food during the day or sell merchandise to travellers who are passing through. In Venezuela, it is fairly common to see a child roaming the streets instead of attending school; some of these children drop out of school because their families desperately depend on the additional income they make. Many are driven into the informal labour market. In such a hazardous environment, young children are highly vulnerable to exploitation by adults and older youths who sometimes use them for selling drugs or pay them for carrying out other criminal activities. Maracay's orphaned and abandoned children need our support SOS Children's Village Maracay is one of four locations where we work in Venezuela. 480,000 children in the country have lost either one or both of their parents. Many of them grow up without parental support and lead a life under extremely difficult socioeconomic circumstances. Without receiving an education, a child's future chances of breaking the cycle of poverty are fairly slim. The story of each and every child at our SOS Children's Villages is singular. However, all the children we care for have something in common: they were abandoned, orphaned or abused during the early years of their life. At SOS Children's Village Maracay, children who have lost parental care and neglected children from poor or marginalised families are able to grow up in a loving environment. What we do in Maracay Children growing up in SOS Children’s Village Maracay (photo: SOS archives) SOS Children's Village Maracay began its work in November 2000. It is situated in a residential area of the city. In Maracay, we have been offering a comprehensive package of services to help children in need, which include: support to families in need, medical advice, and loving care to children and young people who have lost parental care. Strengthening Families: The SOS Family Strengthening Programmes aim to strengthen existing family ties so that children can grow up in their own families. Mothers are being given the opportunity to leave their children at our day care centre so that they can go to work and earn money. In addition, we run child protection workshops so that children can grow up in a safe environment. Due to the current situation, we have increased our activities in order to reach more vulnerable families. Care in families: Children who can no longer live with their families can find a new home with the SOS mothers. SOS Children's Village Maracay comprises 12 SOS families where up to 108 children can grow up in a loving home. We work towards family reintegration and some children are able to go back to live with their birth families when the circumstances are appropriate. Supporting young people: SOS Children's Villages also runs an SOS Youth Programme to support older children. With the aid of our qualified staff, the youngsters learn to shoulder responsibility as they lead semi-independent lives.