Another major element of the economy is remittances sent home by people who work abroad. It is estimated that 17% of El Salvador's Gross Domestic Product is from remittances sent home by expatriates.
Informal employment perpetuates poverty
Many families in El Salvador lack the support they need to break out of the cycle of poverty. Intervention can help children get an education and the tools they need to break out of tough conditions.
Poverty has been in decline over the years in the country, but even so remains very high. Nationally, it is estimated that 39% of the population live below the national poverty line, meaning they live on between $1.50 and $3 a day. These levels of poverty have been explained as being due to the global financial crisis impacting on remittances, low educational achievement, poor national infrastructure and poor housing.
Child labour leads to poor educational opportunities
In such poor economic conditions children suffer the most. Frequently, rather than attend school to serve the long-term needs of the family, children are expected to work from an early age in order to help the family survive. Many work as domestic servants for the wealthy, of whom only 30% attend school – those who do attend school do so irregularly and their grades suffer as a result.
By intervening so children can attend school, SOS Children's Villages attempts to enable their whole families to benefit. By training and educating the parents, so they can get a leg up in life, and this allows the child to live in greater comfort - and attend school too.
How we help in San Miguel
Since 1995, we have set up social centres, provided homes in SOS families, and helped young people become successful independent adults through our youth programme. Our social centres reach the whole community, helping children remain under the care of their parents. We also offer child-minding and daycare centres where parents are able to drop their children while they are at work. We offer training workshops to improve parents' workplace skills and improve employment prospects. Finally, where necessary we offer psychological support and counselling to help parents cope with the stresses of living in poverty.
SOS families offer a home for children who can no longer live with their parents. These cater for up to nearly 150 children in a family environment, each of whom is cared for by an SOS mother. They attend local schools, helping begin the process of integration into the community.
As the children mature, we offer them places in our SOS youth home in the city. This is a shared, supported accommodation where they can live while attending further education or vocational training. Trained youth workers guide young people as they face important decisions critical to their future lives.
Our work in San Miguel helps children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds enjoy a happy, healthy childhood and better life chances. You can help by sponsoring a child.