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

In the south of Colombia, in the department of Nariño, Ipiales is located three kilometers from the border with Ecuador. The city is on a high plateau at 2,950 meters above sea level and has 120,000 inhabitants. The main economic activity in the city is trade, much of which is informal. Living conditions in the surrounding rural areas, where most people are indigenous subsistence farmers, can be harsh, and many people here feel excluded from the economic and political processes in the country.

Since 2003, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Ipiales.

Of children have never been to school

Lack of education

Learning opportunities are not equal for all children in Colombia. In rural areas, a quarter of children aged 9 to 12 have never attended school - in urban areas, that number drops to 11%. When adjusted for learning outcomes, Afro-Colombians and indigenous populations lose the equivalent of 4.7 and 4.5 years of education, respectively. These figures are a year or more than for other groups. These discrepancies between schooling and learning outcomes are related to differences in educational access and quality.

Cases of child trafficking

Child trafficking puts children at risk

In 2020, a congressional hearing highlighted that there have been 1,817 cases of child trafficking in Colombia since 2010, resulting in only 54 convictions. Child trafficking is a major issue in Ipiales, where the proximity of the border with Ecuador. Refugees and Venezuelan migrants cross the border, and transcontinental migrants enter Panama through Colombia. Incidents of gender-based violence, drug trafficking, and human trafficking have been reported. This environment can be very unsafe for children whose parents are themselves in a precarious situation.

Your support makes a difference for children in Ipiales

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

How your support helps in Ipiales

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. Some children live in foster families. Other children live in different areas of the city, alongside local families. 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.