Panama City

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

The capital and largest city of Panama, Panama City has an urban population of 881,000, with over 1, 5 million in its metropolitan area. It lies at the Pacific entrance of the Canal, in the province of Panama. More than any other city in the country, Panama City and its skyline symbolize Panama’s economic growth. However, tens of thousands of its inhabitants do not benefit from this growth. In the shantytowns spread around the city, families live a life without adequate housing or access to public services.

Since 1977, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Panama City.

Of children are forced to work

Child labour

In Panama, around 5% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old are forced to work. Many are subjected to the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. That’s mainly the case in the tourist areas of Panama City and in other beach communities. Children from indigenous and Afro-Panamanian communities are particularly vulnerable – ensuring their social integration and access to education is key to securing a better future for them.

Country in world regarding homicides

Children exposed to crime

The lives of many families in Panama are overshadowed by the high crime rates. With 12 intentional homicides a year for 100,000 people, the country ranks 28th in the world. In some neighbourhoods of Panama City, where people are unable to meet basic needs such as sanitation and food, adults and children are particularly vulnerable to falling into crime. Children and young people living here need extra support so that they can stay safe.

Your support makes a difference for children in Panama City

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.
Can stay together
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Brothers and sisters playing in the garden and having fun. Growing up together, children in our care often form bonds that last a lifetime (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Panama).

How your support helps in Panama City

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 training so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start their own businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to school.
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.