In some parts of El Salvador, crime is a big problem. Gangs try to convince youth that crime can provide a better life with little effort.
Cristian, center, is a youth sponsored through CFCA in El Salvador. On his right is Luis, a CFCA scholar, playing the guitar.
We recently talked with Yesenia Alfaro, CFCA project coordinator in Santa Ana, who said the moral support of sponsorship is helping youth resist the lure of crime and gangs.
What are the challenges that youth in El Salvador face?
They live with discouragement, with an education system that is not the best.
If they can succeed in school or in high school, the percentage of college graduates is very low. Even if they finish college, the employment opportunities are minimal.
Keeping young people motivated requires hard work and effort, because they have all these situations. In a numerous family, the oldest sibling often has to sacrifice their education.
Single mothers have to raise their children as a mother and as a father. This is also one of the difficulties that young people have, in that there is no father figure in many homes.
I believe the hardest part is that young people are constantly invited to be part of a gang and are vulnerable because they have so many needs and few options.
The gang members say to young people, “You can’t earn in the decent way, but there is an easy way to earn money. You’ll have everything easily and faster.”
Sometimes the youth believe them and join the gang. But sometimes they don’t want to get involved, and then gangs try to hurt them or their family members.
Do you know a story of a youth involved with gangs? Read more