Overcoming Gang Violence in El Salvador

Video Produced by: Beatrice McQuiston and Lia Ferrante

Written by: Beatrice McQuiston

Change is often spurred by building relationships. One reason that peace building organizations are successful is because of the human relationships that are created in the process. Finding peace can be about walking with people in the change instead of doing it for them. CRS and partners in El Salvador are responding with a program called Jóvenes Constructores de Centroamérica—Youth Builders of Central America (JCCA) to help youth rise above violence.

JCCA is an organization that creates opportunities for change in Central America. The project was initiated because Central America is one of the most violent regions in the world.  Instead of the youth of Central American countries growing up and going to school, they can be dragged into gang violence. Many young people become the victims of violence starting in their early childhoods.

JCCA is an integrated program that helps young people build job skills and life skills to get out of the gang atmosphere.   All participants benefit from one-on-one attention and mentorship. The project uses strategies like basic education and skills training, community asset building, employment and enterprise development and life skills development.  The project is successful, again, because of the building of relationships with each participant.

This program is an example of  the little steps that must be taken for peacebuilding to work.