The most vulnerable person in the world is a child living alone.
Each night there are approximately 300 children who sleep alone on the streets of El Salvador. There is currently no good plan or method for reaching them. As they struggle to survive they become easy prey for drug dealers, pimps, gang recruiters, and traffickers. They begin sniffing glue when they are as young as five because it dulls the hunger pains. They have been neglected, abused, and abandoned. Some have run away because even home is worse, but on the streets they do not find safety. For these children, the struggle to survive has become one long, dark night and they wonder if they will ever see the light.
We see them around the corner washing windows, selling trinkets, pick-pocketing and just trying to make it. They are in a world that is not meant for children and there they must make a name for themselves, earn some respect, try to find a way to be protected and secure. No one looks out for them, no one wipes their tears, no one wraps them in a blanket.
About a year ago, we clearly felt a call and a burden to do something for these children. We have worked with adults up to this point, and we have worked with children living in protection centers but we have not yet specifically engaged these children who are at an extremely high risk of being victimized by violence, becoming addicted to things like glue and alcohol, or becoming criminals themselves. These children cannot be taken to traditional children’s homes because of the complexity of their situations, and because of the experiences they have lived through on the street.
A few months ago we formed a partnership with the child and youth services here in El Salvador to begin to reach these children on the streets. They have begun training us and sharing the work that they have done so far. The time is soon approaching when we will bring the program under our umbrella and make it a ministry of MTES. One of our staff members who spent his life growing up without a family came up with the perfect name for this new initiative. It’s going to be called “A New Dawn.”
We dream of a new dawn for these children and a brand new day. Our program is designed to meet all of their needs addressing the deep spiritual and emotional issues they face as well as working to detox them from the harmful addictions that will kill them at a young age without intervention. We will have social workers and psychologists helping them to reunite with families and find healthy and sustainable living situations. Our desire is to see those 300 children off of the streets of El Salvador.
The program begins with “Phase I” which is a drop-in center that will be open 5 days a week and fully staffed with a program director, doctor, social worker, psychologist, and teacher. This will give the kids a place to go during the day where they will receive two meals, can sleep, take a shower, can receive some education, and will also have a chance to learn about God and the impact that a relationship with Him can have on their lives. Eventually we want to move into “Phase II” which will include an overnight live-in center for these children.
We can’t do any of it without your help! We are currently still raising funds with the goal of launching this program in early 2016. We currently have the following financial needs:
– Start-Up Costs (rent for a year, vehicle, furniture, etc) : $37,000
– Operational Costs (food, services, security, maintenance and staff salaries) : $59,000/year
– Total Needed to Launch the First Year: $95,500
We are looking for donors who also might consider supporting the program on a monthly basis. The cost needed to support a child through this program for this launch year is $80/month or $995 for the year. The goal of the program is to be transitional in nature as we work with the kids to get them clean from their addictions. Then they can begin to get an education, develop job skills, and have the opportunity to reconnect with family members.
Would you consider being part of helping these children to experience A New Dawn? If you would like to donate, click here for ways to do that. If you want more information about how you or your church or organization can be involved, email us at email@example.com.