Kids at Risk

Meditations on the Advent Season…Peace / Reflexiones sobre la Época Navideña..Paz

How can we find peace in a world that is so broken? How can we breathe deep and close our eyes and be at rest in a world where children are caught in war zones, and women are sold as slaves? How can we find respite for our souls when diseases wipe out whole villages, and addictions claim lives? Where is the peace that is promised us in the candlelight? How can a weary world lift its heads to hear the angels sing? So much is wrong, so much is battered and seems beyond repair. This tension between the two Advents of Christ is almost unbearable. The weight of the world pushes down on our shoulders, and the dark blocks our sight. Into such a world was born our Christ. […]

Two Years

Two years. That is the amount of time that Rodrigo* has been living on the streets. As a 13 year old, he  was forced to leave everything familiar. His family, his school, his friends, and his neighborhood. He had to leave because staying meant death. The truth is, El Salvador has the highest child homicide rate in the world. Teenage boys are most at risk. Rodrigo’s life was threatened. Join us or die.  That is the message falling on too many young ears around El Salvador today. Be a criminal, or die at the hands of one. Kill, rob, extort or be a victim yourself. Rodrigo fled and found a new home. A 13 year old sleeping on a bed of gritty pavement, eating out of the garbage, looking for something […]

It’s Complicated

Está yuca. That’s a Salvadoran slang phrase that basically means that it’s complicated. It’s messed up,  and it’s tough to sort out. We use that phrase a lot around our office, and that’s because almost every one of our clients comes to us with layers of complication. Poverty, violence, systems that are practically rigged against them. Here is a glimpse… There is the boy coming to New Dawn because gangs threatened his life back in his hometown. He had to flee and he fled to the streets of San Salvador. Life on the streets is hard…abuse and addiction soon become the cycle that he can’t escape. There is the man who was traumatized as a child, and eventually turned to alcohol. Over time, he lost his wife, his job, his […]

Walking Together to Freedom

This morning was my first day back in the office after 6 months on sabbatical. As I pulled up to the center early this morning, the first thing I noticed were the children sleeping on the streets. They were there waiting for the doors to open at New Dawn. For these kids, New Dawn is the only safe place in a sea of addiction, violence, and abuse. Some of these kids have been raped, beat up, prostituted, and made to feel like nothing. They have been rejected and abused. On the streets they have found loneliness and fear. It is no easy task to introduce them to something new. New ways, new patterns, and new life are hard to come by on the streets. Our hope is that stepping into New […]

A Salvadoran Perspective on the Violence

Photo Credit: La Prensa Grafica Today Oscar Garcia is guest blogging to share with us his perspectives on the violence in El Salvador.  El Salvador is a small country with big problems. Like a tiny boat in the middle of a raging sea, our country is rocked day after day. As Salvadorans we feel the weight of rapid population growth, financial strain, soaring violence, and political distress. We struggle, and strain, and row against the wind and waves just to get the through the day. We, the people of El Salvador, feel like we are caught in a vicious cycle, like a crazy ride that we just can’t get off. Difficulty after difficulty, catastrophe after catastrophe…and there is no rest from the cruel circumstances that clash with our desire to live […]

Angela’s Story

“When I am at the center, I have the urge to sniff glue but if I give in to it, they won’t let me come in. When I visit the center, I can eat and shower before I go back out to the street; I couldn’t do that before. That is why I like to come. We do activities and they treat me really well.”  Angela*, age 15 Angela is 15 years old and living on the streets of San Salvador. Her story is like the story of many of El Salvador’s street kids. Her father died when she was less than a year old and she has no memories of him. She struggled with her mother to survive, sleeping in public bathrooms, doorways, and anywhere they could find shelter until […]

The Human Trafficking Risk Facing Migrant Children

  “Love you neighbor as yourself.”  We grow up hearing this concept that comes straight from the teachings of the Bible. We believe it, and it may even move our hearts to action. But who are our neighbors? This month is Human Trafficking Awareness Month so I want to take a moment to consider our closest neighbors and the trafficking risks they may be facing. If you are in the U.S.A. and reading this, your neighbors include Mexicans and Central Americans. You don’t have to go far to meet them. As I’m sure you’ve heard, the violence in Central American’s Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) are sending hundreds of vulnerable children north in search of peace and safety. The situation is grim in El Salvador for children in high-risk […]

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas in El Salvador is always so much fun, and this year was no exception! There is a lot of joy to be found in bringing laughter, joy, and hope to those who feel disconnected from family and community during the holidays. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to step in and minister to our clients who may otherwise feel alone during the Christmas season. We want to say a big thanks to our donors for helping to make our Christmas celebrations happen this year! We gave gifts and threw parties for all the survivors that we work with, we had a huge party in the CISNA boys’ center, and we had our annual Christmas Eve party where we invited all of our clients off the streets and […]

A New Dawn

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 […]

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 […]

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