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Population: Over 17 million
Land Mass: 287,187 square miles
Currency: Chilean peso
Primary Religion: Roman Catholic
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1,000 births): 8
Those who visit Chile, home to more than 17 million, find the country’s people to be friendly, passionate, hospitable and hardworking. After decades of struggle, Chile is now a success story and distinguishes itself as one of the most developed countries in Latin America. A stable government, economic growth, a growing middle class coupled with vastly improved social services forecasts a bright future for this up-and-coming South American leader.
Children International began working in Valparaíso, Chile, in 1980. Over the years since, the communities we served there benefited from gradual improvements in infrastructure, employment and social services. In recent years, the country as a whole has made tremendous gains. Specifically:
Chile leads all major countries in Latin America on primary school testing for skills in math, science and reading.
According to the World Bank, the country has invested in sophisticated health care so “those who require the most support are enabled to access goods and services on equal terms as the rest of the population.”
Chile is no longer classified as an “underdeveloped” country by the UN’s Human Development Index. The country’s success story was written by the Chilean people and delivered by a sound government. Today, Chile stands as a role model for other countries still struggling with governance, poor infrastructure, economic challenges and overwhelming poverty.
As a result of the impressive rate of improvement, the stability of the government and assurances that health and human services are adequate to serve the country’s poor, Children International began plans to end its sponsorship program in the country in 2014.
Q. How much research and preparation goes into ending a sponsorship program?
A. Children International constantly monitors the economic and development situations in the countries where we operate. Leaving a country is not a sudden decision, but one we make after a long, thorough review. As soon as we reach our conclusion to close an area of operation, we begin the process of notifying our staff, volunteers, sponsors and, most importantly, sponsored families. We know it’s never easy to say good-bye to a sponsored child, but we work very hard to make this a positive transition for the children and their families.
Q. Why can’t sponsorship continue even if things get better?
A. While it is difficult to see sponsorship in any country come to an end, it is our duty, as stewards of our sponsors’ donations, to focus our efforts on helping children living in countries struggling to provide access to critical social services and assistance to their poor.
Q. How do governments handle the transition?
A. Children International staff members are knowledgeable about government services and programs. We provide information to sponsored families to help them easily access those services in their own communities.