Worldwide Featured Project: El Salvador

The Country of El Salvador is a small Central American country which is blessed by strong people of great faith. And yet it is challenged by economic needs, gang violence and even earthquakes.

RENEW International's Work
For the last twenty-five years, RENEW International has made a major commitment to the people in the capitol city and major diocese of San Salvador. Dr. Irma Chavez is the director of RENEW International’s office in El Salvador. Her tenacious efforts are focused on youth who have been ravaged by gangs. In partnership with the Franciscans in the country, RENEW International created leadership training, small Christian communities and spiritual instruction for helping young people involved in gangs and youth at risk. She has produced materials, organized leadership and skills training programs, and directed the evangelization efforts of the youth at risk.

Many of the teens with whom Dr. Chavez works are motivated to possess job skills and are anxious to put them to good use. In special job training programs, they are encouraged to develop craftsmanship, which will help them secure a means to support themselves and will also serve as an affirmation of their self-worth. Even after they leave the gang, many are still victims of violence because of their previous involvement. They live in fear and often feel caught in a web of violence they cannot escape. These are regular kids, misled by outside influences and seduced by the gangs. They are now striving to better themselves.

RENEW International also works diligently to reach and influence those at risk of joining a gang. RENEW International has positively touched their lives by creating an atmosphere where they can openly discuss their feelings, fears, and hopes for their future. In this environment, these young people are being renewed through their sharing and also through prayer.

In addition to the lives touched by this outreach, one of the fruits of Chavez's efforts is the bilingual faith-sharing book for young people, Renewal of Youth/El Renacer de los Jóvenes, published by Alba House. This fine resource for parish youth ministry addresses conflict resolution, peer pressure and morality with adolescents.

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