Salvador is one of the poorest Latin American Countries. Its history is littered with brutality and injustice. Years of civil war, abject poverty and gang culture have resulted in a generation of children who live partly or wholly on the streets of San Salvador.
In 1995, moved by the plight of thousands of these children, and inspired by the life of Monsenor Oscar Romero, Bron Soan, a nurse, mid wife and social worker set up a ‘safe’ house. Her vision was to protect these children and to assist them to adulthood by offering safety, education and trauma counselling. Most children have suffered abuse at home from being beaten with electric wire to having stones ” thrown at me.” For the first time in their lives the children are respected as individuals with rights.
ACES (Aid to the Children of El Salvador) has funded a centre for 75 children, a hostel for 12 girls at risk of physical or sexual abuse and outreach work with 250 families. Berta (8 years) writes “We are nine in the family. Everyone sniffs glue except me and Yessie. I love my brother Carlos because he defends me when they hit me. Other men and teenagers come to the house to sniff glue. They all fight a lot.”
Since the charity started, four of its children have been shot… but many more have received food and shelter, access to basic health care and the security of a safe haven. Epiphany has offered support to the excellent work of ACES and it is with a heavy heart that due to poor health and the ageing staff in El Salvador, they have decided to retire, sadly leaving youngsters with psychiatric problems to the precarious care of the state.