Mom in the USA, Children in El Salvador

Cyber-Mom – A short film about three children from Central American El Salvador who are raised by their grandparents because their parents have migrated to the USA for work.

All over the world, millions of children grow up without their parents because they migrated to other countries for work. Many times, grandparents become their primary caretakers.

This is what happened to siblings Kevin, Paola and Benjamín from El Salvador, one of the seven Central American countries between Mexico and Colombia. Their mother Ana did not have the money to rent a market stall. Furthermore, she was threatened by criminal gangs in the neighborhood. For these reasons, she and her husband felt forced to emigrate to the USA and find work there. However, the children stayed behind in El Salvador and the family now lives apart.

The three siblings are being raised by their grandmother, 60 year old Dona Moreña. Every day, they talk to their mother via Skype or Facetime. Ana tries to send them presents on a regular basis and promises to bring them to the USA as soon as she has a secure job. Until then, she is a “Cyber-Mom” – and it is Kevin's greatest wish to “go to my mother”.

In the short film “Cyber-Mom. A family's fate between El Salvador and the USA” the children and their grandmother talk about their life circumstances and the fate of family separation.

Background Information regarding Emigration from El Salvador: Escaping Violence, Poverty and Lack of Perspective

Many people leave El Salvador because they can't picture living there in prosperity and peace. In 2015, El Salvador had a murder rate of 103 per 100,000 inhabitants, so about 18 murders a day. Youth gangs are one reason for this. Some of these gangs have several thousand members and rule over connected neighborhoods and whole territories in which they have the monopoly on the use of force. They defend their territories against all challengers, be it the state or other gangs. They fund themselves by extorting money, demanding road duties, as well as the drug trade and other criminal activities.

The escalating violence, poverty and hopeless situation on the job market lead many people to emigrate. In 2015, around 200 people were leaving every day, mainly via Mexico to the USA. Often, the emigrants are young men and women of working age. Their children are left behind, to be raised by their grandparents.


Contact: Joachim Schlüter, Head of Office Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung El Salvador


Short Film Program: “People in Motion” – Why do People leave their Homes? What Paths do they Take?

In cooperation with local partners, the FES international offices produced a short film program that deals with these questions. The films are available on our TOPIC pages “Flight, Migration, Integration”. Please feel free to use them for your own events.


The Route was never the Destination. “We have become migrants....but one day we will arrive.” Short film about a Cuban family that had to flee their country.

Return. In the 90s Lana Mayer fled Croatia for Germany. Now she has returned to Vukovar. This film tells her story.

Move. Three people leave their homes and end up in Namibia. In the short movie “Move”, they reflect upon migration, European double standards and imbalances of power.

The Rainbow-Center of Gaziantep. “Exile offers the chance of overcoming the shadow of violence”. A short film on Syrian dissidents caring for traumatized children.

Caught in the Middle – Migration in Ethiopia. “I do not want my children to live in fear, like I did”. A short film about Ethiopian refugees in Sudan.

Chaught in the Middle, Part 2. Elsa's husband, Yosef, has arrived in Sweden. He has not yet been able to bring his family. Part 2 of the short film “ Between Two Stools”.

Jaminton and Yannia are Leaving. Displaced in one's own country. A short film about a family in Colombia who have become internally displaced due to civil war and violence.

Unseen Shadows - Those who are left behind. A short film on the challenges of women and families in India, whose men have migrated in search of work.

Asfur - Syrian Refugees in Turkey. "Asfur" gives an insight into the life situation of Syrians who had to flee from the war zone Syria and now living in Hatay (Turkey).

Nowhere Man - Pakistani Refugees in South Korea are fighting for Recognition. The A. Family has fled from Pakistan to South Korea, 6000 miles away. A story that also deals with South Korean asylum policy.

Behind the Sea. The film deals with the story of four Algerians who left their homeland for various reasons and returned to Algeria after a certain time. [only available in german]