We have worked in Chile since 1969, where we support some 1,100 children and their families with a total of 9 projects.


A society with a high potential for conflict

Although Chile is a middle-income country, many people are living on the edge of poverty and suffer from missing educational and occupational opportunities. Children are the ultimate victims here. If they are born into this vicious cycle, they rarely manage to escape on their own.

Chilean society routinely discriminates against poor people and minority or vulnerable groups in particular members of the indigenous Mapuche, children with disabilities, immigrants, and pregnant teenagers. Kindernothilfe specifically supports these groups to help them build a better future.

The challenges

Today, Chile still suffers from the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship, which ruled the country until 1990. Authoritarian structures have largely remained unchanged.

Poverty, one of the main problems in Chile, is the root cause of a wide range of problems: extremely high violence rates, child labour, drug abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, and early pregnancies. Although Chile is an emerging economy, 20 percent of Chileans live in poverty. Fifty percent of the poor are children and young people. Members of the indigenous Mapuche people are particularly affected. Precarious job conditions lead to a high rate of unemployment and increase the risk of drifting into poverty. Likewise, youth unemployment is more than twice as high as the average unemployment rate.

Two smiling girls. (Source: Christoph Engel)
Mapuche-children receive special support through trauma work.

In the big city slums, sexual abuse coupled with a lack of sex education means that one out of every four children is born to a mother who is a minor. Young mothers often drop out of school and quickly find themselves caught in a spiral of inadequate education and poverty. Life is particularly challenging for the children of minor-aged mothers. They are often neglected by their young mothers, who are unable to cope and frequently end up as the victims of violence.

Conflicts between the Chilean state and the indigenous Mapuche population are a source of ongoing conflict. The Mapuche are fighting to reclaim land robbed from them by the state, for an intact environment, and for recognition as an ethnic group. At the same time, they suffer from poverty, social discrimination, and state violence. The children of the Mapuche are particularly disadvantaged.

  • Our work in the country

    We help children and young people to break out of the cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Our community-oriented projects are tailored to the needs of children. Project teams speak with the population about their experiences with human rights violations and encourage people to stand up for their rights. In urban violence-plagued slums children receive protection, learn about their rights, and find out how to demand that these are respected. What's more, our projects give families information about concrete ways of preventing violence in their surroundings.

    Working with children from Mapuche communities, we help them overcome past traumas. By collaborating with psychologists and social workers, we document the children's experiences. Moreover, we openly urge an end to the use of Chilean anti-terror laws against children and young people.

    Minor-aged mothers receive counselling and we help care for their newborn babies. Strengthening the relationship with their children is crucial to avoid abuse and neglect in the next generation. Our advocacy work in schools raises young people's awareness of the issue of early pregnancy.

    In addition, Kindernothilfe’s projects support immigrant children, children with special needs, and rehabilitation programmes for victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

  • Key figures on Chile

    • 17.4 million people live in Chile
    • 21 % of all Chileans are under the age of 15
    • 10 % are age 65 or older
    • 3 % of all children have to work
    • 16 % of all young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed

    Sources: World Factbook, United Nations

Chile: The Lota Children and Youth Network

Chile: The Lota Children and Youth Network

Poverty is pervasive in Chile. In particular children are suffering of its implications. Our project tends to motivate children to take control of their own lives and make lasting changes in their city and throughout the entire region.

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Who we are

Who we are

Kindernothilfe is a Non-Governmental Organisation founded in Germany in 1959. We partner with local non-governmental organisations in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe to realize and protect children's rights.

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How we work

How we work

Learn more about how we realize children’s rights.

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