San Vincente

SOS family in San Vicente, El Salvador
An SOS family in San Vicente enjoys the beautiful surroundings of their Children's Village
With gang murders and severe poverty, San Vicente is one of the most deprived departments in El Salvador. Such problems gravely affect the lives of children and early intervention in young lives can guide them away from short-term fixes to long-term solutions.

San Vicente is in central El Salvador and is the capital of the department of the same name. The town's population is 53,000, and its major industry is agriculture with sugar cane the main produce.

Insecurity and fear blights the lives of families

San Vicente is one of the poorest departments in the country. It has high unemployment and very low literacy, and access to basic services is dire. Only 42% of households have running water, and 53% have access to health services.

Gang violence and urban migration

In the mid 1990s, the USA deported many young people who had committed offences there under its Zero Tolerance Policy. Those who returned brought back the US street gang model, where young people look after one another but also use violence to defend themselves. As a result, the town and region has some of the highest murder rates in El Salvador.

Young people from rural areas often migrate to cities in search of work and a better life. They frequently find no better in the city than they had in the countryside. As a result, urban employment is very high in San Vicente, and lost children frequently join gangs for survival unless helped to find another path in life.

Early intervention in a young person's life can reduce the risks of criminality or early death due to poor lifestyle choices. Parents, especially young or single mothers, need support so they can help their children keep focused on long term benefits rather than short-term gains through life in a gang.

SC San Vicente, El Salvador
Smiles all round at the SOS social centre

Our work in San Vicente

We began work in San Vicente in 2004. Today, we run a number of projects designed to fight the causes of poverty at root. Our SOS social centres are designed to help individual families in a holistic way tailored to individual needs. Such interventions are designed to keep families together so children can grow up with their parents.

SOS social centres also offer daycare and day centre facilities so parents can leave their children in a safe environment while they go to work. Social centres also provide psychological support and counselling, as well as training and vocational workshops to help adults improve their chances of employment so they can provide a more secure environment of their children.

Our Children's Village provides a home for children who can no longer live with their parents. Children grow up in an SOS family in which they are lovingly cared for by their SOS mother. They attend school in the local community; forging relationships which help them grow up a part of their community.

Our work in San Vicente is vital to the wellbeing of hundreds of children. Please help by sponsoring a child.

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