El Salvador has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Violence against women is widespread. Youth gangs control whole swathes of land and recruit new members among poor young people. Solidar Suisse offers young adults an alternative route: vocational training, support in becoming self-employed and engagement for a life without violence.
Spiral of violence
There are numerous causes of the violence in El Salvador. In the 1980s, high social inequality, exclusion, discrimination and the violation of human rights led to civil war. These issues remain relevant today. Violence is now primarily perpetrated by youth gangs that are known as maras. There are many reasons why people join gangs, including poverty, neglect, violence at home, unemployment, a lack of educational opportunities. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation by contributing to a significant crisis among poor families and increasing the already high rates of youth unemployment.
To prevent young people from joining a Mara, they need an alternative. We promote youth clubs, in which young people hold discussions, find their own voices and can stand up for their rights.
In addition, we support young people – with a particular focus on young women – with vocational training and in their job search. We organise courses that are well-suited to facilitating smooth integration into employment or self-employed income options, such as for example repairing and maintaining air conditioners. We also help young people to set up their own small business. In four communities we educate young people about sexual rights, violence prevention and equality.
Impact: Best provision against youth violence
Over 40 youth committees have been set up to date. Nearly 500 activists engaged in a large campaign on preventing youth pregnancies. A municipality even authorised the set up of a youth centre upon request. Often young people experience social recognition for the first time.
Donate for Central America
With your donation you will help young people in the violent context in El Salvador to become more self-confident and to access new prospects.