04/21/09 - The money sent home by immigrants working in the United States and Europe plays a crucial role in reducing poverty. These funds are a lifeline for some families around the world. More than 60 percent of transfers are used for basic necessities such as food, clothing, and housing. In Latin America and the Caribbean alone, families received $69 billion in remittances in 2008.
But the global economic recession has reduced these flows. After years of double-digit growth, transfers to Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to drop by 13 percent in 2009, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. Families in some countries are being hit especially hard.
In Haiti, for instance, where remittances make up a quarter of that nation's annual income, fewer transfers mean that some households can no longer afford to feed their children or send them to school. Most schools in Haiti are private and charge fees.
Haitians are also reeling from food price increases and the crop devastation wrought by last year's hurricanes. Political instability in Haiti requires a 9,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force to keep order.
Families in other countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador, which also rely heavily on remittances, are facing a similar crisis in trying to make ends meet.
SOS Children's Villages There to Help
A boy looks on at the SOS Children's Village Cap Haïtien in Haiti
Fortunately, SOS Children's Villages, the world's largest charity devoted to providing loving homes to orphaned and abandoned children, is stationed in these countries to help. SOS offers warm homes, professionally trained local mothers, and stable communities for children whose life prospects would otherwise be very bleak.
But in addition to Children's Villages, SOS also operates schools, clinics, and family strengthening programs for vulnerable local populations. SOS Children's Villages cares for children and families in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and in all but four Latin American countries. SOS is there for families who can no longer depend on remittances as they once did, and when children have nowhere else to turn for care, food, and education.
If you would like to help a child secure a loving home and a full stomach at a particularly difficult time for the world's poor, consider sponsoring an SOS child.