Casa of Peace helps 10 homeless teens per year. In El Salavador, youth is exposed to gang violence, human and sex trafficking. This region is in extreme need of rescuing these particularly vulnerable teens. Children growing up within gang territories often see gang leaders and members as authority figures. Gang membership is seen as not only a viable future, but also the opportunity to have a family they often lack. Some feel their only way to survive is to join.
Older teens are more susceptible as many of them are alone, lacking resources and support. At age 18, most are forced to leave orphanages and/or homes to fend for themselves. Without a home, employment, or any means of support, gangs take the opportunity to recruit. Teens are offered money, food, shelter and a sense of “family”. One-third of Salvadorans live in poverty, the unemployment rate for 16-to-24-year-olds is double the national average; 300,000 in that age group neither work nor study. Youth targeted often come from the same impoverished and violent communities where gangs reign by extorting money and threatening violence to those who do not join.
Data from the World Health Organization.
Most of El Salvador’s murder victims are young men in impoverished areas. Gangs’ practice of explicitly targeting girls for sexual violence or forced relationships is widely recognized. Since 2000, the homicide rate for young women in El Salvador has also severely increased. To refuse the gangs’ demands can mean death for girls and their families.
El Salvador holds the world’s highest homicide rate for people under the age of 19. In 2016, 540 Salvadoran minors were murdered—an average of 1.5 every day.
These teens are alone, facing life without resources and without support. Casa of Peace will provide a home, food, clothing, guidance, access to health care, education, and employment opportunities to help establish a productive life through Christ centered ministries.
Casa provides a stable, compassion-filled home for each teen for 2 to 4 years. They will be living with a family in a home, something which most of us take for granted. They will be shown by example how a family works together, communicates, and loves one another. With their physical needs being met, comes the opportunity and encouragement for a means of providing their own income, and the example of what their future home with a family of their own could look like. Casa of Peace will provide them with a home in the full sense of the word, where they will not only find food and shelter, but also a family modeling structure, treatment, and opportunities to succeed.
Without somewhere to go or any education opportunities the teens leaving the orphanage have little chance of survival. It really is a matter of life or death for them. Casa of Peace recognizes this fact and needs help in changing the cycle of violence and poverty.