Latest update

El Salvador is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for a child to live . Gang violence and homicide are commonplace, and UNICEF reports that one in two children under 14 experience violent discipline at home.

Our local church partners are caring for children and youth by finding creative ways for them to continue their education, including supporting them to get to school safely. With your support, local Compassion centres are ensuring children are provided with enough food to foster their holistic development.

National Director Brenda Lissette Rivas believes in the transformational power of the local church to love and protect at-risk children.

“We have seen how the local church has raised the name of our Lord by caring for those who suffer,” she says. “Its love for those most in need has not failed.”

Watch the video update below from our church partners in El Salvador to learn more.

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Country update

How is Compassion currently operating in El Salvador?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    Some child development centres in El Salvador are unable to meet in large groups in order to abide by local guidelines and limit the spread of COVID-19. Local staff continue to provide emotional and spiritual support by making regular phone calls to families and visiting homes where possible.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    Letters are currently being delivered normally in El Salvador. We encourage you to keep writing to your sponsored child, as your words of hope bring joy, connection and lasting impact in a child's life. Thank you for your ministry!

  • Are gifts being delivered?

    Gifts continue to be distributed in El Salvador. Local workers will meet with the child and family to determine the best use of the gift and ensure it meets their greatest need.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for children, families and our local church partners in El Salvador.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • Pray that God would care for Valery as she fights cancer.
  • Pray that God will provide a stable job for Valery's mother Yesenia.
  • Pray that God will continue to make a way for children to receive an education.
  • Pray that God would give wisdom and discernment to local leaders as they make decisions.
  • Pray for an end to ongoing gang violence in El Salvador. Pray God's peace and protection over El Salvadorian children.
  • Pray for God's provision over families affected by the global food crisis.
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


Please note: Due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, some child development centres in El Salvador are temporarily unable to host large group activities. Our local church partners continue to meet the holistic needs of registered children through smaller group activities or 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.

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

5 in 10

children under 14 years experience violent discipline at home


of rural households lack access to basic sanitation

El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in South America. The coastal nation is still recovering from a 12-year civil war that ended in 1992 and cost over 70,000 lives. Thousands more disappeared and more than a million were displaced in a country of only around 6 million people.

Even now, over 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, meeting the holistic needs of children of their communities and sharing the love and hope of Jesus.

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