San Salvador

Among the 1 million families living in El Salvador’s urban centers, such as the capital city of San Salvador, most are desperately poor and live in slums known as zonas marginales, or marginal zones.

El Salvador

Urban Region

  • Housing in El Salvador's impoverished urban areas is typically overcrowded. Housing in El Salvador's impoverished urban areas is typically overcrowded.
  • Sponsored children regularly write to their sponsors. And they are so encouraged when they receive letters back from their sponsors. Sponsored children regularly write to their sponsors. And they are so encouraged when they  receive letters back from their sponsors.
  • Children at Compassion-assisted child development centers have a safe place to learn and play — and discover God's love for them. Children at Compassion-assisted child development centers have a safe place to learn and play — and discover God's love for them.
  • Thanks to caring sponsors and a program that is Christ-centered, children have the opportunity to experience God's love firsthand. Thanks to caring sponsors and a program that is Christ-centered, children have the opportunity to experience God's love firsthand.
  • Play is a good way for a child to develop physically — and also a good way to have fun and forget about troubles elsewhere. Play is a good way for a child to develop physically — and also a good way to have fun and forget about troubles elsewhere.
  • Some children in urban areas have parental love and support, but others come from broken homes and are tempted to join gangs to find support. Some children in urban areas have parental love and support, but others come from broken homes and are tempted to join gangs to find support.
  • Some impoverished urban areas in El Salvador are known as dormitory cities, with rows of houses each big enough for a family of three. Some impoverished urban areas in El Salvador are known as dormitory cities, with rows of houses each big enough for a family of three.
 
EL SALVADOR OVERVIEW

Population

6,125,512

Religion

Roman Catholic

Weather

 
A Glimpse of Poverty in Urban El Salvador Kids playing
  • Poor urban slums are typically built near rivers, beside cliffs, along railroad lines and among landfills and other spaces considered “no man’s land.”
  • There are also “dormitory” cities, such as Soyapango, in San Salvador – rows of houses big enough for a family of three, with small alleyways.
  • Gangs are an ongoing problem in poor urban areas and threaten the welfare of children in particular.
  • Gang shootings, turf battles and terrorizing individuals make urban areas hazardous places to live and to try and attend school.
COMMUNITY
El Salvador Urban Community
Issues and Concerns
  • El Salvador (meaning The Savior) is named for Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. But because of the proliferation of gangs, the country is one of the most violent in Central America.
  • El Salvador has the highest murder rate in the region.
  • Recently, gangs and other criminal groups started the practice of demanding money, called “rent,” from families, businesses and even churches. If the demanded amount is not paid, gang members retaliate with physical and property harm.
  • The amount of “rent” money charged by gangs can range from $50 to thousands of dollars per week.
  • Local newspapers regularly report murders, kidnappings and businesses burned because someone failed to pay the required “rent.”
Local Needs and Challenges

Violent Gangs

Children are highly susceptible to involvement in the violent gangs that are a growing problem in the cities.

Inadequate Housing

In most cases, children’s homes don’t have such basic services as running water or garbage collection.

EDUCATION
Schools and Education
  • El Salvador is mired in poverty partly because of the general population’s low education level.
  • Although poor urban children attend school an average of three more years than those in the rural areas, few have the opportunity to obtain a secondary education.
  • El Salvador’s urban children typically attend school only through the sixth grade.
  • Nearly 20 percent of males and 25 percent of females age 15 and older in El Salvador can’t read or write.

Compassion El Salvador works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Compassion-assisted child development centers in El Salvador’s cities, operated by local churches, provide registered children with the learning opportunities they need to develop their full potential in Christ.

In addition to attending school, older children also learn practical job skills, such as baking, that will enable them to earn a viable income.

At the centers, Compassion-assisted children also attend health classes, tutoring sessions and Bible studies.

What Compassion Sponsorship Provides

In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing help and hope to urban El Salvador’s children in need, providing:

  • regular nutritious meals and snacks
  • health checkups and medical care as needed
  • the support needed to attend school
  • spiritual development, including Bible studies, youth retreats and counseling
  • the opportunity for youths to dream of a different life — they don’t have to join a gang and sell drugs to support a family. Instead, they can finish school or learn a trade like baking, silk-screening or sewing.