By Katia Maldonado, World Vision El Salvador
World Vision El Salvador won the 2014 “Helping those who help - Caoba Award, granted by the Gloria de Kriete Foundation, and with the support of Caoba Foundation, which is intended to fund projects of education, values, sports, music and culture in the Soyapango municipality, one of the most densely populated places in El Salvador.
The Caoba Award consists in $50,000 USD that have been invested in the ¨Safe Environments for Children¨ project which is implemented in four communities of the Soyapango municipality in San Salvador. In 2015, and thanks to the community effort of mentors and educators, a total of 350 girls and boys are receiving academic tutoring in Language, Arts and Math. Also, they will develop skills in free expression and sports and therefore fostering a peace-building culture for families and community. Additionally, with the support of local partners, 47 young children are learning serigraphy and 35 are developing their artistic skills through music.
Two Children´s Well-being Community Committees have also been created by ecclesial leaders, community development associations, soccer schools and other community groups; the mission of these committees is to coordinate efforts with other institutions in order to promote peace and safe environments for children.
“Our municipality is considered one of the country´s most violent place; this project gives us hope that the future will be different. We have cases of children who have improved their interpersonal skills, and kids who want to continue in school. Some young men want to leave the streets and work hard to learn skills, play instruments or have fun with sports¨, said Adelina, mentor of a Community Children´s Clubs.
“My daughter had problems to talk, but when she started going to the clubs, she was shy and did not want to work; the mentors gave her facial therapy so that she could let go her fear of speaking and through games, she learned to be more confident. Now, she is one of the best students¨, said Alexia, mother of one of the girls in the Community Children´s Clubs.
The communities included in this project are highly vulnerable, with a very difficult situation due to gangs and violence. Thus, the Caoba Award for education is considered one of the most important initiatives in El Salvador, as an advocacy action in favor of children. The implementation of the award emphasizes on violence prevention and the support of education.
On the 40th anniversary of World Vision´s work in El Salvador, many challenges are still present in both rural and urban areas of the country, as the need to bring well-being and holistic transformation each child