La Carpio is the largest slum in Central America, and home to around 40,000 people, including 20,000 children. La Carpio is the city dump, and measures only 1.4 miles in diameter.
Kids growing up in this community have an almost non-existent chance of getting any form of employment besides construction work. Cramped conditions lead to many family members sharing small spaces, which produces high rates of disease spread and staggeringly devastating statistics of incest and sexual abuse. Our missionaries in La Carpio believe that up to 90% of children have been sexually assaulted by their 12th birthday. This has led to an epidemic of STDs, teenage pregnancy, and very young, single mothers.
There is only one primary school (K-6th grade) for the 20,000 children. Three school shifts take place throughout the day, and children only attend school for around 2.5 hours. Upon graduation this puts them at a severe disadvantage to attempt any high school classes.
There is no high school for them to attend within the slum, and so only those children whose parents can afford the bus fare out of the area have the privilege of attending. A large number of youth without schooling or employment has led to drug and gang communities.
CFCI works in La Carpio through a number of different ministries , including:
- Our medical clinic, for all those who cannot attend the government clinic. The clinic sees general patients, and also offers dentistry and gynecology.
- A community center, where we run Bible studies, a program from the elderly, and youth events.
- New Horizons is a program for boys 8-18 who come every Saturday for sports and recreation, as well as during the week to play sports.
- The Refuge is a program for girls, and every Saturday they have around 60 who come for fellowship and healing (related to issues such as sexual abuse and bullying).
- The Institute is an educational program, similar to a high school, where kids can come and have the opportunity to learn and complete their classes. After noticing the children were lethargic and unable to concentrate, the program now also includes the provision of breakfast and lunch.
- Vocational Training, in baking, carpentry, sewing, English classes, and soon-to-be training in cosmetology.
- A Daycare for children of the teenagers in the programs.
- Scholarships for the children who cannot afford the minimal fees to attend.
- Every January we take nearly 200 of these kids to camp for a few days, to get away and have fun, worship and learn about the Lord. For most of these children, camp is the only opportunity they have had in their lives for three meals a day, and a bed and blankets of their own.
- 'Las Gradas' children's ministry where once a week, in the depth of the slums, we put on a program with games, a snack and a Bible story.