Empowering young women in El Salvador.
Racing down the field, Ani* skillfully maneuvers a bouncing soccer ball around the other team’s defenders. From the sidelines, her friends and family cheer loudly.
Twice in the match, Ani’s side fell behind, and twice they came back. Finally, in the game’s dying seconds, her team secured the ball and the tournament championship. “We achieved it with effort and discipline,” the 21-year-old said with a beaming smile.
Much greater than Ani’s victory on the field is the one taking place in her heart. Ani lives in El Salvador. Gang violence has put it among the most dangerous countries in the world. Even with a recent government crackdown, the situation remains tense and complex. El Salvador’s young people, especially young women, are caught in the middle. Economic turmoil and crime put them at exceptional risk of poverty, abuse, and exploitation.
Not long ago, a gang told Ani the date they would force her to sleep with them. “I felt so much terror in my life,” she told us. Thanks be to God, our local Christian partner intervened and protected Ani from such terrible abuse.
Ani is now participating in Project Arrow, a ministry Samaritan’s Purse runs with our local partner. Soccer teams and tournaments give young women and other youth a community and safe place to be. Job skills training equips them to earn a livable income. Urban gardening helps sustain their families as food prices soar. And Bibles, sharing the Gospel, and discipleship lessons give them purpose and hope in Jesus Christ.
“Many people know us for living in a very dangerous place, but I want to tell you that here, too, there are people who praise God, even in the most challenging days for our community,” Ani said. “Thank you for being here with us.”
Last year, more than 360 people accepted Jesus in repentance and faith through this ministry. We praise God. He is working through friends like you. Please keep praying for El Salvador. The days are difficult, but by God’s grace, there is hope.