Santiago is a microcosm of the social divides that exists in all of Chile

Little girl in Madreselvas (photo: A. Gabriel)
Little girl in Santiago-Madreselvas (photo: A. Gabriel)

Santiago-Madreselvas (previously known as Madreselvas) was the first SOS Children's Village programme to begin work in Santiago, on the outskirts of the city. A second SOS Children's Village, Santiago-Los Aromos, is located just two kilometres from Santiago-Madreselvas. Santiago de Chile is the country’s capital and has a population of over 5.4 million. The city has been expanding and modernising steadily over the past decades and is one of the most important financial and commercial centres in South America.

While poverty has been significantly reduced in the last decades, Santiago continues to be a divided city. The new middle-class suburbs in the south stand in sharp contrast to the many poor neighbourhoods sprawling along the outskirts of the city’s north. Due to its rapid expansion, the city also experiences problems such as critical levels of smog, collapsing transportation systems and, not least, great socioeconomic inequality which has led to fragmentation both socially and geographically. 

Poverty hits children harder than anyone, and seriously endangers their future

What we do in Santiago-Madreselvas

Girl with her favourite teddy (photo: F. Espinoza)
Girl with her favourite teddy (photo: F. Espinoza)

The SOS Children’s Village Santiago-Madreselvas on the outskirts of Santiago began its work in 1967. For children from the area who are no longer able to live with their parents, SOS families can provide a loving home. There have been some recent care reforms in Chile, so that children and young people who cannot live with their parents, receive better care according to their age and gender. In SOS Children`s Village Madreselvas, there are some families where boys and girls can live together in the village up to the age of 18 and there are also some homes in the community where only boys, aged 12-18 live . The boys and young men living in different neighbourhoods in the city are well supported and attend school or further training so that they can become independent, just like those living in the village. 

When young people are ready to leave their family in order to complete their secondary education or vocational training, our SOS Youth Programme makes shared accommodation available for them. Young people from the children’s villages Santiago-Madreselvas and Santiago-Los Aromos come and live here together. With the support of qualified counsellors, they learn to take responsibility, plan their future and prepare for independent adult life.