SOS Children's Village Ciudad Ojeda Venezuelan families are facing extremely challenging conditions due to recent economic changes. Poverty is on the rise and basic items, food and medicines are extremely expensive and in short supply. We are supporting the community so that they families can stay together. The oil industry brought wealth – and many problems Playing football in the SOS Children’s Village (photo: SOS archives) CCiudad Ojeda is located on the north-eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo and has a population of around 140,000. It is known as Venezuela’s first planned city and was founded in 1937 to provide better living standards to the inhabitants of nearby Lagunillas de Agua and the increasing number of oil workers in the area. The oil companies were the heart of all economic activity in Ojeda. However, the heavy reliance on the oil industry makes Ciudad Ojeda’s economy a very fragile one that is dependent on fluctuating oil prices. Heavy pollution of Lake Maracaibo due to drilling activities, wastewater and raw sewage dumping, agricultural runoff, as well as oil leakage from faulty pipelines is also a grave concern. This poses a serious health hazard for the population on the shores of the lake. Ciudad Ojeda’s orphaned and abandoned children need our support Around 27 per cent of people live in poverty. Young parents who are unable to take care of their children, child labour and children fending for themselves on the streets remain a common occurrence. SOS Children's Village Ciudad Ojeda is one of four locations where we work in Venezuela. Around 480,000 children in the country have lost either one or both of their parents. Many of them grow up without support and lead a life under extremely difficult socioeconomic circumstances. Without receiving an education, the child's future chances of breaking the cycle of poverty are fairly slim. Every child at our SOS Children's Villages is unique, as is his or her life story. What all the children we care for have in common is that they need support and protection in order to get the chance in life they deserve. In the SOS Children's Village, children who have lost parental care and neglected children from under pressured or marginalized families are able to grow up in a loving environment. What we do in Ciudad Ojeda Young people receiving support from SOS co-workers (photo: A. Gabriel) SOS Children’s Villages began its work in Ciudad Ojeda in 1983. Strengthening Families: The social centers here provide a family strengthening program that aims to alleviate hardship in the community. Our services include a childminding program that allows working parents or single mothers to leave their children in safe hands while they are out making a living. The community is also able to organise other events at the centres, with SOS Children’s Villages providing training and support. Due to the current situation, we have increased our activities in order to reach more vulnerable families. Care in families: For children in Ciudad Ojeda who are no longer able to live with their parents, SOS families can provide a loving home for up to 99 children. They live with their brothers and sisters, affectionately cared for by their SOS parent. Supporting young people: When young people are ready to leave their family in order to pursue further education or vocational training, the SOS Youth Programme makes shared housing available to them. They live here supported by qualified youth counsellors. This provides them with a safe environment where they can plan their future, increasingly take responsibility and prepare for independent adult life.