Latest update

El Salvador reported a total of 55,821 COVID-19 cases and 1653 related deaths as of 4 February 2021. Although vaccinations have not yet begun, the government has approved a vaccine for use and is constructing infrastructure in preparation for its vaccination campaign. Most businesses are operating without restrictions. Airports are open for international flights and the country is actively promoting tourism in order to help the economy and restore lost jobs. Although it is not required, the government recommends wearing a mask at all times.

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COVID-19 in El Salvador

How is Compassion currently operating in El Salvador?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    All of Compassion’s local church partners and child development centres in El Salvador are closed in line with local guidelines.

    Compassion church partners are supporting vulnerable families with food and available medicine and developing online tutoring materials so children can continue learning from home. Centre workers are following up in situations where child protection is needed.

    Compassion El Salvador has been able to distribute over 339,000 food packs and 170,000 hygiene kits and to provide medical support to 56,000 individuals. They are also providing resources to help families plant home gardens.

    Compassion El Salvador has shared uplifting messages and public health information for entire communities through local radio. Some centre staff members have been able to arrange small, virtual birthday celebrations for children. Many tutors have formed prayer groups to pray for the children in this season.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    We are unable to safely deliver letters to children in El Salvador at this point. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write! We encourage you to continue sending your sponsored child letters of encouragement and hope. What a joyful day it will be when those letters are delivered!

  • Are gifts being delivered?

    Gifts continue to be distributed in El Salvador. Staff members have been given the option to disburse monetary gifts to an appropriate, verified caregiver, if necessary. This applies to family gifts and child gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognising that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for children and families in El Salvador who have been impacted by COVID-19—and the local staff and churches who continue to serve them in difficult circumstances.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • God's healing for Ian as he recovers from the emergency removal of his appendix.
  • Pray that God would give the doctors wisdom as they work to stabilise Edwin’s seizures.
  • God's blessing over the treatment of Jimmy's father as he experiences renal failure.
  • God would guide the hands of doctors treating the heart condition of Alexandra's mother.
  • Pray for Elmer and her mother as she has had some complications during the pregnancy.
  • Continue to pray that the children’s caregivers and parents would find job opportunities to provide for their families.
  • Wisdom for the National Office leadership team as they serve and support the children, families and staff.
Much-needed meals for El Salvador

Much-needed meals for El Salvador

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of struggle to El Salvador. Many parents have lost their income and government-imposed quarantines have meant that vulnerable children registered with Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program are unable to attend their centres, leaving them without their guaranteed one meal per day. That is, until a cook and a baker from a local child development centre decided to step in.   Read more open_in_new

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Please note: Due to the current pandemic, all child development centres in El Salvador are temporarily closed. Our local church partners continue to meet the urgent needs of the children through home-based care.

A snapshot of Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program in El Salvador

Compassion’s program is contextualised across countries and communities, as well as age groups.

  • Children aged 1 to 3 receive home-based care.
  • Children aged 3 to 11 visit the Compassion centre for three hours a day, three days a week.
  • Children aged 12 to 14 attend the centre twice a week for two hours.
  • Students aged 15 and older attend the centre for four hours a day, once a week.
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Compassion Program Activities in El Salvador

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Compassion assisted children in El Salvador typically attend program activities at their local child development centre before and after school. Here is an example of what a typical program day looks like for children in El Salvador.

Devotional time - Children are taught to pray.

Spiritual lessons - Children sing songs and learn Bible stories.

Break and snack time - Children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships.

Social-emotional lessons - Children learn conflict resolution skills and how to develop healthy self-esteem and a godly character. Children often come from challenging home environments and are taught social and personal skills.

Lunch and social time - Children generally receive a nutritious meal every time they go to the centre. A typical meal consists of some type of carbohydrate, such as bread or tortillas, and protein such as soy, meat or chicken. This can include sandwiches, soup, rice pudding, pupusas (tortilla filled with cheese and beans), or enchiladas. Children who experience malnutrition are provided with additional nutritional support.

Health lessons - Children are taught practical health and hygiene tips.

Letter writing and career planning - Older children work with local staff to identify their strengths and interests, and set goals for their future.

In addition to Compassion’s curriculum, children have opportunities to participate in activities such as camps, drama, football, painting and museum visits. Older students join in vocational training activities such as computer literacy, tailoring, dressmaking, beauty, baking, poultry production, fish farming, silk screening, rabbit farming, and bean, corn and vegetable farming. Parents of Compassion assisted children meet once a month to learn a variety of topics.

The greatest needs impacting children living in poverty in El Salvador

32.7%

of people live below the poverty line

12%

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 disappear—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.

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