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

Arica is a port city in Northern Chile with a population of 230,000. It shares a border with Peru. The city is also home to valleys that are highly fertile. The Azapa Valley contributes significantly to the agricultural industry in Chile, mainly with the production of olives and fruit. Since the 1800s, the port in Arica has been key to trade in the region. Like any border town, Arica faces many challenges. For example, drug and human trafficking mark the lives of many of its inhabitants.

Since 1988, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Arica.

Children in drug trafficking activities in 2020

Children forced to work

Although child labour is illegal in Chile, hundreds of children between the ages of 5 and 14 have been found working in various sectors. While a majority work in agriculture or construction like livestock rearing or bricklaying, some have been found in one of the worst forms of child labour: drug trafficking. Children in Arica are found selling and transporting drugs on the border with Peru. Children from low-income families have succumbed to engaging in drug trafficking activities, with many ending up as substances abusers themselves.

People have suffered from toxic waste dumps

Ill-health due to toxic waste

Families living in Arica have suffered for more than 30 years from toxic waste dumps in the area. The improper disposal of toxic waste, that is high in arsenic, has seeped into the local drinking water systems. An estimated 12,000 people have been affected by the waste, with many lives lost and several reporting long-term side effects such as respiratory problems, miscarriages, infertility and birth defects.

Your support makes a difference for children in Arica

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 often have homework to do after school. We try to make sure that they have a quiet place to concentrate on it (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Chile).

How your support helps in Arica

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.