Tegucigalpa is the capital of Honduras and also the largest city. Over 1.2 million people live here. When Tegucigalpa’s growth accelerated in 1990s, the infrastructure could not keep up and it led to water shortages, unemployment and increasing crime rates.
Children, young people and families face many challenges in the city: these include extreme poverty and gang violence. In some areas street gangs, the most feared extortionists in the region, force residents to pay ‘war taxes’ or risk being killed. Families need support so that they can live safely and make a living free from violence and crime.
Since 1970, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Tegucigalpa.
Many neighbourhoods in Tegucigalpa are controlled by street gangs. The two most violent are Calle 18 and MS-13.
Many families are caught in the cross fire of gang violence. In some cases, they are sometimes forced to flee to safety, leaving behind their homes and jobs. This puts children and young people in challenging situations as their lives are turned upside down. The situation is particularly dangerous for women and young girls – they are subjected to sexual violence and death rates, or even murdered.
Many children living in Tegucigalpa can’t attend school because they can’t afford to or it’s not safe due to gangs.
Although schools are free to attend, families living in poverty often can’t afford to buy uniforms and learning materials.
Others can’t attend because it is not safe. They have to choose between survival and gang violence. Gang members threaten teachers to give their children passing grades or be killed. Children in schools and playgrounds can be caught in crossfire.