Today the city relies on commerce, agriculture and the service industry as its main incomes.
Child labour and rising violence
Desperate families on the margins of El Salvador society frequently ask their children to work for a living instead of attending school. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty as children without qualifications cannot go on to better lives.
A new highway has brought both prosperity and an increase in criminality. Though the 'Longitudinal del Norte' highway, which links the department to Guatemala, brings commerce by road into the city, the highway is also a major drug smuggling route. Such organised crime adds violence to a population which is struggling already.
Scraping a living on the landfill
Children work in agriculture, as domestic servants, and sell merchandise in the streets. They also work on the huge landfill site on the edge of Santa Ana, seeking out recyclable materials to sell. Children work in pairs, the older one seeking materials and the younger guarding the hoard. They then take the money earned that day back to their families.
Such children often come from difficult backgrounds, with drug addiction and unemployment affecting their parents' capacity to support them. Many children seek a release from their difficult lives and become substance abusers themselves.
Our work in Santa AnaOur Children's Village was set up in 1985 and today we run a number of programmes to support families and children. Our social centre helps keep families together. We also run daycare facilities for parents to leave their children with us while they work, assured their children are in good hands.
For children can no longer live with their parents, SOS families offer care for nearly 150 children. Here, children grow up in a family environment, cared for by an SOS mother and attending school in the local community.
As young people grow up we help them gain independence on our SOS youth programme. They live in shared, supported accommodation while undertaking further education or vocational training. They are given guidance by trained youth counsellors while taking those all-important decision of early adulthood.
We also run a vocational training centre in Santa Ana. Future SOS mothers and staff are comprehensively trained in the important roles they will take on in caring for the families and children who come to us for support throughout El Salvador.
We give children in Santa Ana another chance. Please help by sponsoring a child.