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Snapshot of El Salvador

25%

lack access to improved sanitation

73

years is the average life expectancy

16%

of people over 15 cannot read or write

The smallest and most densely-populated in Central America, El Salvador is still feeling the effects from a civil war that raged from 1980 to 1992. An estimated 75,000 people were killed, thousands disappeared, and more than a million were displaced in a country of only around 6 million people.

Even now, almost 30 years from the war’s end, justice is slow for those who died or lost loved ones. El Salvador President Nayib Bukele recently vetoed a new law that aimed to allow the prosecution of war crimes, saying that it was in reality “an amnesty law” that would allow judges to reduce the sentences of war criminals.

El Salvador also faces a pervasive threat from gangs. While gang-related crime has dropped in recent years, violence is a daily reality for many, and the country has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. This is a major factor, along with ongoing drought and high unemployment, in so many locals fleeing their homes and heading for the US border.

President Nayib Bukele was elected in early 2019 in a strong protest vote against the major parties; the political outsider and former mayor ran on a platform of tackling corruption and swept to power. But the Congress is dominated by traditional party members and it remains to be seen how effective President Bukele’s calls for change will be.

Up to one in three Salvadorans lives in poverty, with about 8.5 per cent of citizens living in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. Malnutrition is a threat for many children, especially in rural areas where so many families rely on agriculture for their income. Drought has led to widespread crop failures and tropical storms and hurricanes have also caused widespread damage.

Children and young people are also targeted by gangs, particularly in urban areas; many girls are threatened, abused and raped—or simply disappeared—while boys are coerced into joining gangs and inducted into a life of crime. Education and graduation rates are low, and those that do persist with their education and graduate can still find it difficult to obtain steady employment.

Yet local churches across the country are at work, serving the children of their communities and sharing a hope more powerful than poverty.

Guillermo Munoz

Letter from Compassion El Salvador Director Guillermo Muñoz

Dear Sponsor, Greetings from El Salvador. It is my prayer that God greatly blesses your life and family. My name is Guillermo Muñoz. God blessed me in 2004, when I became the country director of this wonderful ministry. I’m married and we have two wonderful kids. Compassion began working in El Salvador in 1977.

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Dominic: Warrior of Faith

Dominic was only three years old when his mother abandoned him and his eight-month-old brother Diego, leaving them with their father and grandmother. “We didn’t understand why their mum would have done such a thing,” says Rosa Hernandez, Dominic’s grandmother. “They were aware she was missing. As a family, we all cried together.”

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Prayer requests for El Salvador

  • Pray for Monica, aged 14, who is grieving the loss of her mother. Pray for strength, consolation, peace and provision for her and her family as they mourn. Pray that the church will love them and support them through the difficult days and years ahead. Pray also for Edwin, a five-year-old boy who is mourning the loss of his father.
  • Pray for Fernando, who was recently diagnosed with acute leukaemia. Pray for strength and courage as he faces this diagnosis; pray for his doctors and medical teams to be wise in how they treat him. Pray for God’s healing intervention and that he will soon be cancer-free.
  • Pray for Pan de Vida (Bread of Life) Child Development Centre (ES0026) as they are building a new playground for the children of their community. Pray that God would provide them with everything that they need to finish the construction project and that it will be a place of great joy and blessing for the children in their neighbourhood.
  • Pray for all of the local church centres who are recruiting for new child workers and looking to train more volunteers. Pray that God will prompt the hearts of men and women who care deeply about children and are passionate about their safety and development to apply and be trained to work at the centres.
  • Pray for communities that were affected by heavy rain, mudslides and flash flooding at the end of 2019. Pray that they will be able to rebuild and get back on their feet. Pray for the churches who assisted in emergency response and are now working on long-term initiatives to help these families.
  • Pray for the children and families who have been threatened by violence. It is a constant threat in many communities. Pray for churches who are striving to protect them; pray for God’s shelter and safety. Pray for a breakthrough from this atmosphere and violence that affects so many.

Stories from Compassion in El Salvador

08 Mar, 2015

The Global Impact of Clean Water

While millions of people around the world don’t have access to improved water sources, Compassion is at work to provide clean, safe drinking water for children in Compassion’s programs and their families. .. Read more

05 Mar, 2020

The One Thing that Connected Abigail to God

The first memory Abi has of the Compassion centre at her local church in El Salvador is the first time she was asked to sing. That invitation to sing for her classmates made her feel special to God and the people around her. She was only seven years old then, but she hasn’t stopped singing since... Read more

22 May, 2019

12 Fascinating Photos of Tiny Homes in the Developing World

The 'tiny home' movement is making its way across the world—but tiny homes are nothing new. People have lived in tiny homes for much of human history. Here are 12 fascinating photos of tiny homes from around the world. .. Read more