SOS Children's Village Santiago-Madreselvas

Life is steadily improving for most people in Chile, and Santiago is a prime example of a modernising Latin American city. But the gap between the wealthy and the poor is as stark as ever here, and many children begin life at a disadvantage, making their success as adults much harder to achieve.

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. 

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, ten SOS families can provide a loving home. In each family, the children live with their brothers and sisters and are affectionately cared for by their SOS mother.

The children who grow up in the SOS Children’s Village attend schools and kindergartens in the vicinity, ensuring that they are very much integrated into the local community from a young age.

When young people from the children’s village 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.