SOS Children's Village Tarija was built in 1992 in the town of the same name that has about 800,000 inhabitants and is situated in the southern part of Bolivia next to the border with Argentina. The hilly surroundings of the town are used for agricultural purposes and due to the temperate climate; the region is a known wine-growing area. The region's inhabitants earn their living as small farmers or work in one of the food-processing businesses which are the region's most important employers.
SOS Children's Village Tarija is situated about 3.5 kilometres from the centre of Tarija, in La Tablada, one of the town's few green areas that have not been affected by erosion. It can be easily reached by public transport. The SOS Children's Village consists of twelve family houses, a village director's house, an administrative building and an 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). A total of 108 children can be housed in a loving and family-like environment.
SOS Children's Village Tarija also includes an SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, an SOS Youth Facility and an SOS Social Centre. Up to 800 pupils can be taught at the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, which was opened in January 2004. It has 16 classrooms, adjacent rooms and an administrative unit.
There are several public and private schools in Tarija. A public vocational school gives young people from the SOS Children's Village the opportunity to receive training in a range of metal-processing jobs. Public facilities provide sufficient medical care, foodstuffs and other consumer goods.
SOS Children's Village Tarija also has a shared flat for up to ten male SOS Children's Village adolescents in higher education or vocational training. This gradually prepares them for an independent life.
An SOS Social Centre complements the SOS Children's Village's infrastructure. Construction work the social centre in "Defensores del Chaco", a borough on the outskirts of Tarija started in 1993 and it was opened on the 17 April 1996. The social centre's work involves nutrition, health and child development, family development, supporting women, organization and integration into the community, and also educational and vocational development for mothers. In addition, the SOS Social Centre has a day-care centre where up to 220 children are provided with three daily meals. There is a paediatric surgery and dental surgery, a small pharmacy and a room for in-patients. The day-care centre is run according to Montessori principles.
The so-called "family contract" provides an effective basis for social work. It is compulsory for all parents to agree to abide by the family contract upon registration of their child at the day-care centre. The parents' compliance with the contract is a criterion for re-enrolment of the child the following year. The contract targets self-set goals such as looking for a job. The teachers check to see that the parents adhere to these rules. Vocational support for women focuses on advice for women involved in small businesses (specifically product quality, accounting and marketing), home economics and manual training such as a basket-work course. Eight family committees, mainly made up of mothers of children from the social centre, become involved in topics such as regeneration, matters concerning bringing up children, education, collection of donations, sports, and public welfare work. This includes the organisation of information evenings on gynaecological topics and the formation of volunteer groups for the renovation of residential buildings.