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Homelessness. Medical emergencies. Natural disaster. Your donation helps children when they need it most..
Known for its amazing sunsets and diverse ecology, El Salvador has been steadily recovering from its 12-year civil war in the 1980s. Food shortages and a lack of educational opportunities plague its people. Compassion-assisted children experience these realities daily. But at the Compassion center, there is hope.
A girl sits on a swing at the playground.
A group of children play soccer at their child development center.
Teenage boys play baseball together.
Young adults learn income-generating skills, like baking, at their child development center.
A teenager reads the Bible in his neighborhood.
A group of children run out of their child development center together.
A teenage girl uses a computer at her child development center.
A young girl holds a rooster in her arms.
A young boy smiles as he holds a favorite traditional meal.
A girl holds a planning book outside of her child development center.
Issue: In rural areas, where the poverty level may be higher than 40%, children as young as 7 sometimes leave school so they can work to support their families. Those who fail to finish secondary school have few options beyond difficult jobs and minimal wages.
Response: At Compassion centers, children are given educational assistance designed to keep them engaged with school. Older children learn entrepreneurial skills such as tailoring, baking, poultry production or fish farming, which provide them with better income-earning opportunities.
Prayer Point: Pray that students will see the value of continuing their education and will pursue self-supporting careers that help them escape the grip of poverty.
Teenagers receive vocational training for skills to help their future..
Visit the Compassion blog to learn more about our work in El Salvador.
El Salvado is the smallest country in Central America. In fact, it’s smaller than the state of Massachusetts! But El Salvador’s small size doesn’t take away from the natural beauty found in its beaches, jungles and volcanoes.
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Official Name: Republic of El Salvador
Form of Government: Presidential republic
Capital: San Salvador
Official Language: Spanish
Currency: U.S. dollar
Area: 8,123 square miles (21,041 square kilometers)
In 1821, El Salvador and the other Central American provinces declared their independence from Spain. When these provinces were joined with Mexico in early 1822, El Salvador resisted, insisting on autonomy for the Central American countries. In 1823, the United Provinces of Central America was formed of the five Central American states under Gen. Manuel Jose Arce. El Salvador became an independent republic when this federation was dissolved in 1838.
El Salvador's early history as an independent state was marked by frequent revolutions. Following a deterioration in the country's democratic institutions in the 1970s, a period of civil war followed from 1980-1992. More than 75,000 people are estimated to have died in the conflict. In January 1992, after prolonged negotiations, the opposing sides signed peace accords that ended the war, brought the military under civilian control and allowed the former guerrillas to form a legitimate political party and participate in elections.
During the 12-year civil war, human rights violations by both the government security forces and left-wing guerrillas were rampant. The accords established a Truth Commission under United Nations auspices to investigate the most serious cases. The commission reported its findings in 1993. It recommended that those identified as human rights violators be removed from all government and military posts and recommended judicial reforms. Thereafter, the Legislative Assembly granted amnesty for political crimes committed during the war.
Source: The World Factbook, 2014.
The village of La Palma has become famous for a school of art started by Fernando Llort. His childlike images of mountain villages, rural life and Christ are painted in bright colors on objects ranging from seeds to church walls.
The town of Ilobasco is known for its ceramics, while San Sebastián is recognized for its textile arts.
Poetry is popular, and well-known writers include Manlio Argueta and Francisco Rodriguez.
Salvadorans enjoy the rhythms of the Caribbean. Guitars, marimbas and drums are used in church services. Most of the music on Salvadoran radio is standard pop fare from the United States, Mexico or other parts of Latin America, but there's a small underground movement of canción (folk music) that draws its inspiration from current events in El Salvador.
Spanish: Hola (Hello), ¿Cómo está? (How are you?), Bien (Fine), ¿Que ondas? (How is it going?), Tranquilo (Fine), Salu (Goodbye), ¡Puchica! (Gee! Good! Yeah!)
Sports & Games
Salvadorans love to play soccer, which is the main sport. Basketball, baseball, tennis and swimming are other favorites.
Corn and black beans are the daily diet of most families. Families also like to snack on pupusas (corn cakes filled with chopped meats, beans and spices).
The typical school year runs from January through November. Education is compulsory from ages 7 through 12. Schools in rural areas are inadequate in number, size and qualified staff.
El Salvador has initiated major reforms of the secondary education system, which are designed to both substantially increase access and improve the quality of education offered while ensuring its relevance to a changing, technologically driven economy. However, a large number of children cannot attend secondary school because they need to work to help support their families. Their jobs include working on sugar and coffee plantations, in domestic services, and as street vendors. This reality is even more critical in the rural areas where the poverty level can be higher than 50 percent. In these areas, it is common to see children begin to work at 6 or 7 years old.
The education situation past secondary school is even less promising. According to El Salvador's government statistics, the population with a university-level degree remains in the single digits. In El Salvador, a person who does not have a professional career cannot expect a good salary; even people with degrees may be hired for manual jobs that pay a minimal salary (U.S.$185 in the city and U.S. $90 in rural areas). People who have no secondary education must work for less than the established minimum.
The constitution provides for freedom of religion and states that all persons are equal before the law and prohibits discrimination based on nationality, race, sex or religion.
The constitution explicitly recognizes the Roman Catholic Church and grants it legal status.
Public education is secular. Private religious schools operate freely in the country. All private schools, whether religious or secular, must meet the same standards to be approved by the Ministry of Education.
Source: International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2012 by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Holy Week: March or April: Celebrated before Easter. Salvadorans hold processions during this week. On Easter weekend, most people celebrate by going to church and to the beach.
San Salvador Feast (Feast of the Holy Savior): Aug. 3-6 — Celebrated with a carnival, fireworks, dancing and parades.
Independence Day: Sept. 15
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: Dec. 24 and 25 — Homes are decorated with elaborate nativity scenes that can fill a whole room, Christmas trees are decorated and children receive presents on Christmas Eve.
Visit the Compassion blog to read posts about Easter in El Salvador and Christmas celebrations in El Salvador.
Compassion has been working in El Salvador since 1977. These El Salvador facts and statistics provide a good picture of the reality of poverty and how child sponsorship through Compassion is making a difference.
Poverty is a problem in the country of El Salvador but with your support, Compassion is working to change this. The El Salvador facts tell a difficult story, but Compassion is bringing hope in the midst of the difficulties. Our programs are changing the statistics one child at a time.
Don't let the hopelessness of poverty overwhelm you. Sponsor a child in El Salvador or make a donation to help children in El Salvador!