Free the Girls

Human Trafficking Awareness / Concientización de la Trata Humana

Did you know that in the United States, January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and today, January 11th, is Human Trafficking Awareness Day? In our world today, it is estimated that 30 million men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking…modern-day slavery. Human trafficking happens through the use of force, fraud, or coercion to make someone do some type of labor or commercial sex act. Human trafficking happens all around our world every day. In El Salvador, we are working to fight this horrible evil through support services for underage survivors of trafficking, and through transitional services for adult survivors. Women and girls living in poverty, in gang-controlled communities, or trying to get to the United States are at a high risk of being trafficked. Our hearts break for […]

MTES In The News / MTES en las Noticias

In case you missed it, Mission To El Salvador was featured in a segment on The CNN Freedom Project! One of our partnerships is with the organization Free The Girls, and together we work to provide jobs for women who are survivors of human trafficking. We are humbled and honored that The CNN Freedom Project chose to highlight the work happening here in El Salvador. It is so encouraging to see such a beautiful story about El Salvador! You can few the link in English here, and in Spanish here.   En caso que se lo haya perdido, Mission to El Salvador apareció en el segmento El Proyecto Libertad de CNN. MTES se ha asociado con la organización “Free the Girls” y juntos nos esforzamos para proveer una fuente de […]

Meditations on the Advent Season…Hope / Meditaciones de la época Navideña…Esperanza

We live in tension. Tension between the first coming of Christ, and His return. Tension in a world that hopes for things to be made right, but that still sees how glaringly things have gone wrong. We live and struggle in this place. As we enter the Advent season, that struggle and longing becomes something that we meditate on, and in this first week of the Advent season we center our thoughts around hope. Hope that the promises He has made to us will come true. Hope that there are better days ahead. Hope that in the end He wins and not our painful circumstances. This season, I am learning much about hope from several brave women. The women that work in our Free The Girls microenterprise have made choices […]

Numbers – Cifras

I opened the newspaper, and the numbers screamed out at me. A lot of talk about El Salvador is reduced to its numbers. Number one murder rate in the world…Leading the world in the number of child homicides every day…Number one rate of femicide…Record numbers of undocumented child refugees fleeing El Salvador for the U.S…High numbers of daily deportations. Headline after headline points to the number of the dead, the number of criminals, the number of students dropping out of school because of the violence, the number of new shelters being set up around the country as families are forced out of their homes by the killings on their doorsteps. The numbers climb until they swirl around like some vast, dark cloud of despair. The numbers can crush us. When […]

Celebrating Freedom – Celebrando La Libertad

Today is Independence Day in El Salvador…September 15 is the day that Salvadorans celebrate freedom from Spanish rule. Watching the marches in the streets and seeing the Salvadoran flag flying around the city have gotten me thinking a lot about freedom and what that means in the lives of our friends. It’s important to celebrate the stories of freedom as fiercely as we grieve the stories of pain and loss. There is freedom to be found around us everyday…freedom from addiction, from the grinding pain of poverty, from the trauma of abuse and exploitation. Today we celebrate our friend Douglas who works every day serving others in our center…he is approaching 2 years of sobriety. His freedom brings joy to so many. We celebrate Jeremy who has struggled out of the […]

Our Girls

Yesterday marked the International Day of the Girl. It’s a day to focus on girls, and issues that they are facing around the world. It’s easy to see girls as vulnerable and in need of protection but we can also see them as powerful members of their communities. Research tells us that when girls are educated, their whole communities are impacted. We can acknowledge the challenges, but also celebrate the victories. Here in El Salvador, girls are facing overwhelming obstacles. Many of the girls we work with have experienced the very worst that life has to offer in the very short time that they have been on this earth. Some have been trafficked, others abused and neglected. Many of them live in fear. The situation created by gangs and poverty […]

The Ripple Effect

When you drop a stone into a pond there is an initial plunk and then the splash of water. Around the place where the stone dropped ripples spread out until the calm, quiet of the pond is completely interrupted by ripples of various sizes. No part of it is left untouched. I am seeing that violence has a similar affect on society, at least on the society here in El Salvador. Our tiny home has made international news for the worst possible reason…a soaring homicide rate. August closed with more than 900 murders. That is in a country the size of Massachusetts. As the ripples of violence spread, lives are marked by terror and fear. Some of the women who sell bras in our Free The Girls program can no […]

Imagine

Courage and strength…these qualities can be hard to come by when we grow up in the best of environments. Now, imagine that you did not grow up in a healthy environment. Imagine that you grew up in a hard situation, that your mother was gone most nights prostituting herself, that your father wasn’t around, and that your siblings didn’t even have the same father as you. Imagine that gangs moved into your neighborhood and forced you to do things you didn’t want to do. Imagine that you were exploited, intimidated, and soon you were in so deep that there was no way out. Imagine that you went to jail, and had a baby there. Imagine the fear, the weakness, the uncertainty. Imagine that you don’t have to imagine any of this […]

Community Food Co-Op Up and Running!

In recent weeks, all of us on staff at MTES have been discussing the importance of restoring dignity to those that have lost so much. The men, women, and children served by our programs have many things to grieve. Men who live on the streets have often lost their homes and families, women who have been exploited have lost their innocence, and children without a consistent living situation have lost their security. These losses are emotional, physical, and spiritual. Our hearts are moved, and the temptation comes to give hand-outs to those still reeling from such heavy losses. But is there a better way to restore dignity and respect? There are places where “hand-outs” and emergency relief are appropriate, but there are also places where these things can add to […]

Love Like A Gangster

In El Salvador, Valentine’s Day is called “Love and Friendship Day” and last month we celebrated love and friendship with all of the women involved in the Free The Girls program here in El Salvador. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece were visiting so they helped serve, and a group of women in the States that pray regularly for the girls helped to sponsor the party. We had pizza and candy, a raffle, and a discussion about love. The reality is that these women have received some very mixed-up messages about love. Sex is very distorted in their minds, and abuse and manipulation by “boyfriends” have further confused any notion of romance, love, and affection for them. Part of my work with them is addressing the lies about what love is […]

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