Jul 24, 2014 / 02:12 am
Nearly 1,000 children and teens who live in violent, crime-ridden areas of El Salvador have turned to the Don Bosco Youth Symphonic Orchestra as an alternative to a life of drugs and conflict.
The orchestra is financed by a $1 million grant from the Social Fund for the Development of Japan, administered by the World Bank. It is run by Spanish Salesian Father Jose Maria Moratalla Escudero, known as Father Pepe, who is president of the Salvadoran Education and Work Foundation.
Formed more three years ago, the orchestra made its debut in San Salvador last year. The young musicians range in age from 8 to 20 and are from various public schools located in neighborhoods plagued by gang violence. Twenty-five year old Bryan Cea, himself from a troubled neighborhood, directs the orchestra.
El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in Central America, along with Honduras and Guatemala. According to El Salvador president Sanchez Ceren, the murder rate in the country has increased from six per day in 2013 to 10 per day in 2014.
Gang violence is so intense that even living in or visiting an area controlled by a rival gang can mean death.
For this reason, the orchestra project is so important, as it gives young people a peaceful alternative for learning, Fr. Pepe said. …
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