More than 50,000 children have arrived at the U.S./Mexico border alone so far this year. Nearly 40,000 women and children have arrived as families.[source] All have endured an incredibly dangerous journey to escape violence and despair in Central America. Current efforts to expedite their deportation place their safety and well-being in jeopardy.
While this issue is playing out along the U.S. border, this issue also underlines the long-term challenge facing so many in Central America and elsewhere who struggle to cope with economic marginalization, changing weather patterns, grinding poverty and the violence endemic in these states.
As LWR President Daniel Speckhard recently pointed out, poverty created the environment for these situations to escalate. While the children at the border have very immediate needs, it’s also important to address the root causes of this problem.
Here are three ways LWR is committed to helping in Central America:
1. Providing for children and families
LWR is working with national governments, organizations and church bodies in El Salvador and Honduras, such as Lutheran World Federation and the Lutheran Church of El Salvador. Together we’ll work to provide shelter, material needs, protection and psychosocial support for children and families returned to these countries from the U.S and Mexico.
2. Working with pastors to support returning children
After their long and arduous journeys, children who are returned will need extra support to be able to cope. As a part of our work with the Lutheran Church in El Salvador, we’ll provide training for pastors on best practices to support unaccompanied minors who are returned. The training will also help pastors work to prevent children from migrating alone in the future.
3. Long-term solutions to poverty
LWR’s work in Central America to advance rural development provides lasting solutions that address the economic causes that push people to migrate to the United States.
For example, in Honduras, LWR helps farmers diversify agricultural production, improve on-farm processing and storage, and strengthen local food markets. This helps strengthen their livelihoods, earn enough money to support their families and help them remain in their homes.
In El Salvador, LWR is working to address development challenges for poor and at-risk families. Among other activities, our local partner helps those families leverage credit. We are also engaging youth social risk assessment programs and working with two youth associations to increase their civic engagement.
You can help
Lutheran World Relief works alongside partners and communities in El Salvador and Honduras, addressing the root causes of poverty with long-term, sustainable development projects.
In addition to that work, LWR has dedicated approximately $100,000 (50k per country) to help ensure that the needs of unaccompanied children returning to these countries are met.
You can help support this work with a gift to LWR’s Central America Unaccompanied Children fund. Your gifts will not only help carry out the activities outlined above, but will help us respond to any emerging needs that may arise.
You can also help by keeping all the children traveling to the borders in your prayers, along with their families and all the people who work to ensure their protection.