ASAPROSAR serves approximately 140,000 persons living on the margins of society in extreme poverty.
Challenges for Children
Recent studies in El Salvador indicate that more than one million children enroll in school, but 25% drop out of classes for economic reasons (ie. leaving school to look for work.) It is estimated that approximately 30,000 children work in high-risk conditions such as cutting sugarcane, collecting garbage, and child prostitution.
Poverty forces children and adolescents to confront other social ills such as lack of family structure, exclusion and exploitation by adults. There are no laws in El Salvador to protect children and youth, their basic rights are denied and society seems to ignore their plight.
Health Risks of Poverty
Among the harmful effects upon health of children and families living in poverty are:
- Infant mortality rate of 10 per 1000 live births
- High pregnancy rates for girls 10-15 years of age
- Malnutrition (4 of every 10 children has some form of malnutrition)
- Epidemics such as hemorrhagic dengue fever which recently claimed the lives of 3 children less than six years of age
- HIV-AIDS (2,500 children are infected according to government data but they only have the capacity to care for 500 children and the rest die without medical attention)
Natural Disasters in El Salvador
The destruction of the 2001 earthquake in El Salvador caused massive damage and loss of life in areas served by ASAPROSAR. Later Hurricane Mitch unleashed its fury as it hit the Central American countries.
In 2005, there was an awakening of activity of the Santa Ana Volcano, Llamatepec, which had been dormant for years. Warnings were issued by the government and the country was put on alert. In preparation for a possible volcanic eruption, ASAPROSAR contacted firefighters who worked at Mt. Saint Helen during its eruption. On October 1st, 2005, the volcano began to spew forth hot gases, molten rocks, and caustic ashes as it erupted, blowing out the side of the mountain. Because of the emergency preparation of the community, the loss of life was minimal, but over 20,000 people living on the side of the volcano lost everything and became homeless.
Days after Volcano Llamatepec erupted, Hurricane Stan hit the shores of El Salvador with resulting winds, mudslides and loss of life. The sides of the erupted volcano were vulnerable to further disaster and the people suffered. note: This was just days before Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana)
As a result of these natural disasters, many residents have suffered. Some live in low-income houses near the Camones city dump. Others are “squatters” in shelters made of carton, wood and tin. Often they have no access to potable water, no electricity, no latrines, nor ability to dispose of garbage properly.