In 1992, the corner-stone of the SOS Children's Village was laid in Santa Cruz, which is the capital of the east Bolivian province of the same name and is located at an altitude of 440 metres on the banks of the Piray River. Over the last 40 years, as a result of an improved infrastructure and the discovery of oil, natural gas and iron ore, Santa Cruz has attracted many migrants from the surrounding highlands. Santa Cruz has developed into a large city with a population of 600,000, which has also contributed to an increase in social problems such as poverty and unemployment. Today, Santa Cruz is an important trade centre and has become the headquarters of many consumer goods industries.
SOS Children's Village Santa Cruz was built on about 15,000 m² of land in a residential area near to the Piray River and is on the old road to Cochabamba. Up to 108 children can find a new home in the 12 family houses. Further facilities on the premises include a village director's house, and SOS Aunts' house (SOS mothers in training, who assist current SOS mothers in their everyday work, and stand in for them if they are ill or on holiday) and an administrative building. Furthermore, SOS Children's Village Santa Cruz has an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, an SOS Social Centre and four SOS Youth Facilities.
The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School opened in February 1999, and is run as an elementary school for 760 pupils. The school has 17 classrooms, an administrative unit, adjoining rooms and a sports ground. The SOS Social Centre was opened at the same time as the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, and consists of a small day-care centre and health-care centre. Five group rooms for the supervision of pre-school children, three rooms for children, and treatment rooms with corresponding adjoining rooms are available to the local population and therefore make an important contribution towards an improvement in the living conditions of the less fortunate classes. The day-care centre is particularly valuable for single mothers from the area as it enables them to earn or at least contribute towards earning a living for the family, safe in the knowledge that their children are being cared for by trained supervisors.
Four SOS Youth Facilities in urban Santa Cruz are available for the use of up to 36 adolescents from the Children’s Village for the duration of their secondary education and/or vocational training. The SOS Youth Facility gives the young people increased responsibilities and therefore plays an important role in gradually preparing them for an independent life.