Sonsonate, San Salvador

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SOS families offer a lifeline to Sonsonate's most vulnerable
Though a bustling coffee trading town, Sonsonate suffers poverty where the urban poor work on the informal economy. Children of these families work to support their parents rather than attend school.

A childhood spent in work leaves individuals without the resources they need to escape poverty.

Informal economy makes life hard for poor families

Sonsonate is situated in the west of El Salvador in a department of the same name. A growing proportion of its population are working in the 'formal' economy, which has increased from 53% in 1994 to 68% in 2004. Those outside the economy live on the margins, with wages averaging 30% lower than those with jobs in industry or commerce.

Examples of the informal economy include selling merchandise or homemade food on the streets. Those in this line of work have variable and insecure incomes – they are not paid by the hour for their work unlike those in factories or coffee processing companies.

Child labour and poor educational attainment

Often, children are expected to work support their family. Those in rural areas work with their parents on the plantations and farms in the area. Where in the recent past this was culturally acceptable and a good source of income, other industries have overtaken farming as good earning opportunities. In order to work in other sectors of the economy, a good education is required just to begin a career.

Without an education, a child won't have the opportunities they need as an adults. Illiteracy sits at around 20% in the department of Sonsonate; far higher than the national average. Young women are less likely to be able to read or write than young men.

Only 50% of children in Sonsonate are able to attend nursery school due to their parents' economic circumstances. SOS Children's Villages steps in to give children this opportunity.

Children from Sonsonate, El Salvador
Smiling faces at our Village in Sonsonate

Our work in Sonsonate

We opened our Children's Village in 1972, and now run social centres, a number of SOS families and an SOS youth programme. Our social centres help families in the community, supporting those most in need. We also offer child-minding, nursery and daycare facilities to allow parents to work while children are in the best available care. Finally, we offer vocational skills training to adults to help them improve their incomes.

Some children can no longer live with their parents. SOS families offer care to nearly 150 children. Here, they attend school in their local community and live in a family environment; cared for by an SOS mother. Those who have suffered trayma receive ongoing psychological support, helping them recover.

As young people grow up, they need more independence. When they are ready, they join the SOS youth programme. Here they live in shared accommodation while attending vocational training or further education.

We care for the most vulnerable children in Sonsonate and help fragile families grow strong. Help by sponsoring a child.


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