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working in Latin America, based in
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COLOMBIA

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Seeking God is our last one shot

Former Gang Members in El Salvador

"Seeking God is our last one shot"

For more than 20 years, the country of El Salvador face an endemic violence related to gang activity. In 2015, El Salvador had the highest homicide rate in the Western hemisphere (Insight Crime). Many Salvadorans continue to flee the country to escape from the bloody confrontations between the gangs and State. According to the International Crisis Group, there are 60,000 active members in a country of just 6,4 million people, with an estimated 500,000 connected to the gangs.

While a new Assembly was elected in 2018, the political class, all political parties combined, has so far only promoted measures increasingly repressive, without removing the gangs.

As a result, the prisons have filled up, exploding their capacity of reception, while the public programs of rehabilitation are almost non-existent. Only some evangelical churches, welcome the recently released seeking to break with their past lives, like the Eben Ezer church located in a notorious 18th Street gang neighborhood in San Salvador.

Conversions to Evangelical Protestantism are usually done in prison. Most of the former gang members staying at the Eben Ezer church came from La Gotera jail. They find at the church a place to start a new life, trying to break the vicious circle of a return to their neighborhood, the gang, and then jail. They spend their daily life between the religious worship, odd jobs or helping to convert other gang members. They are seeking to have a “normal” life, despite the stigma of their past occupations and the physical evidence of that life in the form of tattoos, on the face and body.