THE NEED IN SALVADOR
El Salvador is a beautiful country, with a painful history and rich cultural heritage. Natural disasters, poverty, war and violence contribute to generations of fatherless and completely orphaned children in El Salvador.
Even pre-conquest El Salvador was marked by war and a struggle over land distribution. Since the Spanish conquest of 1524, El Salvador has been a predominantly Catholic nation, with a growth in Evangelical Churches since the 12-year-long civil war in the 1980's.
Since the war, gangs formed in Los Angeles by Salvadoran refugees have been deported back to El Salvador and now "rule" the nation. El Salvador has the highest homicide rate per capita in the world - resulting in children being orphaned every day. Right now there are over 100,000 children needing care.
With a population of 6,344,722 people, it is interesting to note that there are around 34,000 gang members (9,000 of those are in prison), and there are a staggering 5,075,777 (80% of the population) who identify as "Christian" (including both Catholic and Protestant/Evangelical). Yet, the culture is more greatly affected by - and known to the world by - the gangs than by those who claim to follow Christ..."Therefore, go and make disciples..."
Seventeen percent of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. In some rural areas, the percentage can be as high as 40 percent.
Malnutrition is actually the leading cause of death among the rural poor.
An estimated 4 out of 10 inhabitants of El Salvador live in poverty. Half of all the country’s children and teenagers live on less than US $1.25 per day.
Only 1-4% of the population owns 60% of the land. Most rural families have lived as squatters for generations, and are not even allowed (by their land owners) to grow their own food or keep chickens.
Education is free through the ninth grade, but only 82% of children make it this far due in part to the need to work to support their families and the fact that even notebooks and uniforms can be too costly for these children.
Another factor is that teachers are obligated to pass their students until the fourth grade, many students in rural areas reach fourth grade and are unable to read or write - they often drop out of school around the age of 13, and are then at risk for gang recruitment.
Many elementary schools offer education to the children in a given community, but those same children cannot further their education and graduate, because after ninth grade they have to travel through "enemy territory" to get to school. In the community where FHF works for example, only 4 out of every 60 students continues after grade 9, and even less continue to University.
El Salvador consistently ranks amongst the most violent countries in the world. This is due primarily to gang violence, which predominantly affects teenagers who are drawn into that life because they lack family structure and community.
El Salvador has the highest homicide rate per capita in the world. This homicide rate means that children are being orphaned every day.
El Salvador is the smallest, most densely populated country in Central America. Located on the Pacific coast- south of Guatemala and west of Honduras, El Salvador has a total land area of 21,041 square kilometres (8, 124 sq. miles)
Religion in El Salvador:
As a nation, El Salvador is "evangelized", but lacks "discipleship". "Therefore go and make disciples..."
El Salvador is known as the "land of volcanos", and has 21 active volcanos. El Salvador suffers from regular earthquakes and seasonal hurricanes.
Much of the Salvadoran economy depends on remittances from the U.S.
We seek to help develop the local economy.
Local crops and trade include: coffee, sugar cane, textiles industry, and tourism *(which is the fastest growing sector in the economy).
* While there is gang-related violence in El Salvaodr, it is very safe for tourists, and El Salvador has been named one of the top 10 places to visit (2010, 2016, Lonely Planet).
For more on El Salvador, and to see a map, go to Wikipedia.
As we work in this beautiful, religious, and hurting culture, we echo the words of God, spoken through the Prophet Isaiah, to the nation of Israel, in Isaiah 58. We also strive to obey Jesus' command to "make disciples", "teaching them and baptizing them", and to do "to the least of these" as unto Jesus.
We believe that God is a Father to the fatherless and sets the lonely into family (Psalm 68:5,6), and that He calls us to live out true religion by visiting orphans and widows in their distress, and by living holy lives, unpolluted by the world. (James 1:27). We also recognize that we are in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12).