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

Esmeraldas is the capital of the province with the same name, in the upper north-west of Ecuador. Around 200,000 people live in this city, which attracts many tourists for its beautiful beaches. However, due to the city’s proximity to the Colombian border, it is facing the consequences of drug trafficking, including violence, corruption and extortion. Furthermore, girls are at risk of forcing to get married.

Since 1979, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Esmeraldas.

Of girls are married as children

Children are forced into marriage

In Ecuador, girls are still victim of child marriages. Indeed, 22% of women are married before they turn 18, even though the legal age to marry in Ecuador is 18 years old. Child marriage is a violation of the universal declaration of human rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound. There is also an increased risk of child pregnancies and domestic violence. In the province of Esmeraldas specifically, 15% of women were married before age 18. This is the highest percentage of all provinces in Ecuador.

Of people in Esmeraldas live in poverty

Drug trafficking and its consequences

One third of Columbia’s cocaine production passes through Ecuador, and as the Esmeraldas province is located next to the Colombian border, the area is prone to a lot of drug trafficking. This means that people not only face drug related violence, but also corruption, extortion, and money laundering, which is made easier by Ecuador’s dollarization of the economy. These aspects have a harmful effect on the safety of children; especially for the 55% of people in Esmeraldas living in poverty; where the lure of easy money puts many at risk of becoming entangled in dangerous activities.

Your support makes a difference for children in Esmeraldas

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.
Adults and children
Are supported in the community
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Are supported on their journey from Venezuela
Making a paper doll with the encouragement of an SOS Children’s Villages staff member (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Ecuador).

How your support helps in Esmeraldas

Strengthening families and communities
When parents face hardships, they can sometimes struggle to give children the care they need. SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities. Each family needs different support so that they can stay together. This support can include workshops on parenting and children’s rights. We also run trainings so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to school.
Supporting Refugees
SOS Children’s Villages in Ecuador is supporting refugees from Venezuela. Around 500,000 Venezuelans live in Ecuador, and are in need of basic necessities like food and shelter. However, not only these challenges worry Venezuelans. They often struggle with finding employment or receiving a legal status. SOS Children’s Villages supports these refugees wherever needed.
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. Many children live in different neighourhoods in town, alongside other 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.