Maracay is the capital of the state of Aragua in north-central Venezuela, close to the Caribbean cost. The population of the city stands at 1.2 million.
Maracay’s economy is fueled by the production of paper, perfumes, and cement, as well as through agricultural produce like sugarcane and coffee.
There has been a steady development of the city. However, Venezuela's deep social and economic crisis of the past years has also affected families in Maracay.
Since 2000, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Maracay.
Around 51% of people are living in poverty across Venezuela. In Maracay itself, thousands of children do not have a home.
From global oil exports of natural reserves, Venezuela was once the richest country in Latin America. However, the situation changed and left Venezuelans out of money, grappling for necessities like food, and safe drinking water. In Maracay, in desperation to feed their families, many parents moved abroad. Many travelled to Colombia in hope of employment opportunities, while leaving their children behind with relatives. However, in many cases these relatives themselves could also not care for the children.
It is difficult to give exact figures, but it is estimated that between 60-70% of children suffer from malnutrition.
Severe food shortages around the city, worsened by hyperinflation has led to extreme hunger conditions for children, especially those living in poverty, across Maracay.
Children resort to scavenging through garbage cans in search of scraps, leaving them with poorer health conditions from consuming unhygienic food. UNICEF estimates that the number of Venezuelan children in need of aid has grown to nearly 3.8 million.