San Antonio Abad
Comunidad Maria del Campo
San Antonio Abad is a semi-urban community in San Salvador that is about a 20-minute bus ride from the Casa. This community, which is comprised of 70,000 habitants, is divided into sectors, demonstrating great economic disparity and face many challenges such as unemployment, broken families, lack of educational opportunities, and immigration. San Antonio Abad has experienced much suffering during the '70s, '80s, and '90s due to violence associated with the war. The community draws strength and inspiration from their many martyrs, such as the 4 youth and priest who were killed during a retreat at the parish center, El Despertar, in 1979.
A large campesino family from Suchitoto also lives in the community of San Antonio Abad. Because of the violence related to the civil war, they had to flee their home in the early 80’s to find refuge in the city and are now accustomed to urban life-style. Most of the children are studying or working in the greater San Salvador area. Their family and neighborhood consist of many individuals striving towards social change through participation in Christian base communities and an environmental organization.
Role of Casa Student: Students spend time visiting with community members, and spend mornings with a woman who is involved in Christian base communities. The majority of mornings and afternoons are spent conducting home visits, going on field trips, sharing meals, participating in reflections, and teaching small English classes in the family’s home.
San Ramon is a semi-urban marginal community in San Salvador (about a 20 minute bus ride from the Casa).
About 150 students participate in Centro Hogar, which is the branch of ANADES in San Ramon. The majority of children are from poor homes of single mothers, whose work is washing / cleaning in private homes, selling in markets, working in the maquilas, and farming. Services provided to families include education of pre-school children, nutrition, physical health and psychological support, social work, and education for parents of families. Nuevo Amanecer also has programs in family solidarity, communal development, economic initiatives, workshops, and health.
The Association Nuevo Amanecer of El Salvador (ANADES) is an institution of human promotion and Christian inspiration, which emerged from the Christian Base Communities. The pedagogy / theology of Nuevo Amanecer is rooted in the idea of empowering individuals to better their living environment through education, solidarity, and Christian values. They recognize that investing in the physical, intellectual, and spiritual development of children with the collaboration of families and the community is the most effective means to promote development that is more humane, participative, and sustainable. Three hundred children between the ages of 18 months to 6 years of age attend the childcare centers (there are 5 throughout the country).
Role of Casa Student: The primary role of the Casa student at Nuevo Amanecer’s Centro Hogar is to assist with the Program of Child Development, spending time with the children while accompanying one classroom throughout the semester. At midday, students eat at a local comedor / soy project, visiting with the women who run the program and eating healthy meals. In the afternoon, home visits are conducted with the social worker of Nuevo Amanecer with the goal of better understanding the reality in which the children in San Ramon live and also to foster a better understanding of children’s behavior in the classroom. Casa students also have the opportunity to meet with the teachers of Nuevo Amanecer to talk about pedagogy, methodology and classroom preparation.
Tepecoyo is a rural community located about 1 hour from San Salvador in the department of La Libertad. The area of Tepecoyo historically has been a coffee growing area. Other crops that are grown are corn, maicillo (a small corn-substitute grain), beans and tobacco. There are some people who raise livestock such as cows, pigs, and chickens. Primarily, the people have dedicated themselves to the cultivation of coffee, brick making, and the production of milk products such as cheese. However, with the fall in coffee prices, many of the landowners are no longer producing coffee, leaving most people in the area without work or income. As a result, many families do not have means to survive and many children go without education because families cannot afford the basic costs (uniform, food, school supplies, transportation, etc.). La Javia is a nearby rural village just outside of the small town of Tepecoyo and is made up of 3 zones.
In La Javia, there is a functioning computer lab with about 5 computers where a Salvadoran youth teaches classes to children of the community. Casa students teach English classes offered to small groups of children. In addition, the children in the classes receive a snack each day to address the issue of malnutrition. A small feeding program, or comedor, serves about 28 of the children in the community. All of these projects are offered in the home of a local leader in the community.
Role of Casa Student: Students participate in several newly developed programs including teaching English classes for the children of the community, and helping out with the preparation and distribution of food in the community kitchen. Students also have opportunity to get to know the family of the local community leader, as well as members of the larger community through conducting home visits.
Mariona is an urban community located 6 miles north of the capital, San Salvador. As a result of the economic crisis in the country, the town has grown quickly in recent years as people are migrating to the city from the country in hopes of better living conditions. There are approximately 150,000 habitants living in 18 small communities. Mariona is also home to the largest male prison in the country, called “Esperanza.”
In one of the sectors of Mariona, there is a team of 3 families who serve as Casa students' guides, teachers, and mentors have creatively responded to the community’s struggle with violence. One community member works with Salvador Craft, a small clearinghouse for 20 women’s cooperatives throughout the country that make artisan products. The dream of Salvador Craft is threefold: to have a market where they can sell their products at fair trade prices, to have a creative space to imagine new products, and to strengthen their members through integrated education. Praxis students will also join another family member in meditation and massage/energy therapy workshops.
Role of Casa Student: Casa students spend time collaborating with the families in the various activities mentioned above. Specifically, students will have the opportunity to travel to rural cooperatives of Salvador Craft to learn about its history and mission several times during the semester. Students also alternate one morning a week learning an artisan craft and one morning participating in meditation / massage workshops. Additionally, students provide an after-school program to a small group of young children, integrating English classes with song, art, and games.
Canton El Cedro
Canton El Cedro is located about an hour from San Salvador. It is a very rural area, surrounded by fincas, coffee farms, and beautiful, mountainous landscapes.
The people of Canton El Cedro live on the margins and face many challenges, especially now because there is little work to offer in the area. Many people are forced to travel to San Salvador costing them money in transportation and travel time. The farmers of the area find it difficult to find work in the city because many do not know how to read or write. The families in Canton El Cedro are organized with a community council which meets on a monthly basis. Houses are located far from one another, which makes it challenging for people to organize and work collaboratively.
The objective of Centro de Capacitacion San Vicente de Paul y Comedor la Casa del Cipote, is to welcome, accompany, and adequate children, youth and adults. There are many projects offered at the Centro headed by a nun from the order San Vicente de Paul. First, there is a comedor, or community kitchen, for 130 children between the ages of 1 and 15. They receive a glass of milk in the morning and lunch Monday through Friday. In addition, there is a pre-school for children between the ages of 4 and 6. Pre-school is offered Monday through Friday from 8-11:30. In March, there is also a sewing workshop with 30 students. In addition, there is an on-site, organic garden project that provides vegetables for the comedor and for sale.
Many women earn small income by making artisan crafts--mostly jewelry--in their homes. In the near future, the center is looking to construct a high school and health clinic. Through these projects, those involved hope to improve their economic, social and educational situation.
Role of Casa Student: Students spend most of their day with the children who participate in the center’s activities and the women who coordinate the center. Students are involved in the daily activities of the comedor, preschool, community garden, and English lessons and computer classes. Students are encouraged to incorporate any other skills they may bring in the classroom or the center, such as art, music, etc. Also, students visit the homes of the people involved in the center and the surrounding communities.
La Valencia is located in a rural zone of San Ramon located at the base of the San Salvador Volcano. The community is about a 20-minute bus ride from Antiguo Cuscatlan, and, from there, another 45-minute, uphill walk to the communities.
El Pueblo de Dios en Camino is a Christian Base Community founded in San Ramon and is run by local leaders. This community emerged in 2000 in response to alienation from the local, conservative parish and has since developed as an important support for the marginalized people in San Ramon and the surrounding areas. El Pueblo de Dios en Camino has made an intentional pastoral decision to reach out the communities of La Valencia and nearby Plan del Coco. Plan del Coco is a small community that resides along the river at the base of the volcano. The students have the main objective of accompanying the people in their daily struggle for the basic necessities of life.
The families of La Valencia have limited access to public services such as running water, electricity, and garbage collection. The community is mostly made up of elderly women and men, single moms, children, and youth. Both La Valencia and Plan del Coco are at high risk of mudslides as the heavy rains make the terrain incredibly vulnerable and unstable. For this reason, Plan del Coco is becoming increasingly aware of their fragile connection to the environment. Much organizing has happened to educate the community and also assist them in an evacuation plan should a mudslide occur.
Role of Casa Student: Casa students are involved in the daily activities of La Valencia and Plan del Coco, with the majority of Casa students’ time dedicated to spending time with the children and teaching English classes, hauling water and helping with cooking. Many home visits are conducted in the communities of La Valencia and Plan del Coco as well.
El Pueblo de Dios en Camino
San Ramon is a semi-urban marginal community in San Salvador (about a 20 minute bus ride from the Casa)
El Pueblo de Dios en Camino is a Christian Base Community, which is based in the practice of liberation theology. Found in the local community of San Ramon, it is run by local leaders and community organizers. This community emerged in 2000 in response to alienation from the local, conservative parish and has since developed as an important support for the marginalized people in San Ramon. Programs and services offered include a soy project, a tutoring program for at-risk children and youth, a weekly Bible reflection, a scholarship program for young children and youth, a support group for single moms, and an artisans' cooperative. In addition, El Pueblo de Dios en Camino has made an intentional pastoral decision to reach out to the rural, marginalized community of Las Nubes with the main objective of accompanying the people in their daily struggle for the basic necessities of life.
Role of Casa Student: In the community of El Pueblo de Dios en Camino, students divide their days between the communities of San Ramon and Las Nubes. Students walk uphill forty-five minutes to Las Nubes, which is located at the top of a volcano and does not have access to running water, electricity, and garbage collection. Here, students accompany families, assist with basic house construction and daily chores. At midday, students spend their time in the comedor / soy project in San Ramon, visiting with the women who run the program and eating healthy meals. At El Pueblo de Dios en Camino, located in San Ramon, students spend time getting to know the community members and teaching English classes to small groups of pre-teens and teenagers.
Fundacion de Desarollo Social
Fundacion de Desarollo Social, which is located within walking distance of the Casa, is a local, non-governmental organization that provides a variety of services with a focus on medical care, community outreach, and education. The foundation has a number of different health care projects, such as a medical clinic, pharmacy and dental office. In most clinics, only primary health care is provided, and patients are required to travel to a public hospital to meet with a specialist, where the waiting list extends for months. At FUNDESO, patients have access to meet with many different specialists in areas such as physical therapy, gynecology and optometry. With access to specialists, patients receive valuable and necessary care at an affordable price. With donations from German businesses based in El Salvador, general consultations cost about $1.50 and medicine in the pharmacy is about half the price found in other private pharmacies. About 400 people visit and attend the clinic every day. A team of medical providers, social workers, and volunteers attend to the patients. Health brigades also promote health care and prevention in schools and marginalized communities and coffee farms.
Role of Casa Student: Students experience and discuss the realities of the health care field through accompaniment of this private clinic in the areas of nursing, physical therapy, and social work. Additionally, with the health brigades, students also visit marginalized communities outside of Antiguo Cuscatlan, including rural coffee farms. Students will also provide English classes for a small group of health care workers in the clinic and have also created relationships and taught English to women in the clinic’s cafeteria.
Zacamil is a rural community about an hour up-hill walk from La Javia, which is located about one hour outside of San Salvador in the department of La Libertad. This small district has an economy largely dependent on coffee; however, with the fall in coffee prices, many of the landowners are no longer producing coffee, leaving most people in the area without work or sufficient income. As a result, many families do not have means to survive and many children go without education because families cannot afford the basic costs (uniform, food, school supplies, transportation, etc.). Zacamil is also home to a young man who was injured in an accident that left him wheelchair bound.
Role of Casa Student: : Students have the opportunity to accompany this young man and his family, as well as teach him and the members of his community English. Students in Zacamil will also have the opportunity to conduct home visits, learn about realities of El Salvador’s health care system and of highland, rural life.
Cantón Las Delicias
Las Delicias is a small, rural village located in the department of La Libertad, 28 kilometers from San Salvador. Historically, Las Delicias was a coffee-producing zone that provided the main source of work and income for the region; however, with the fall in coffee prices, the community is no longer able to count on this as a stable source of income. The majority of people in the community work as farmers. About 50% of the residents own their own land for planting the milpa, or corn crop, and growing beans. Most of what is grown is used in the home and very little is left over to sell. Some young members of the community work in maquilas, or textile factories, and some women work as domestic help in nearby larger towns. Some men travel to San Salvador to work in factories or in construction, but this work is temporary and hard to come by. Many people living in Las Delicias are unemployed and some families are forced to survive on the remittances that are sent from family members who live in the United States.
The community of Las Delicias has a public school that serves children from primary school to 9th grade. The Catholic Church in Las Delicias has a youth group and small committees with various responsibilities. Most recently, a new community center has been constructed. The center includes a library, green house, and community kitchen (comedor) with a small nutrition program for children. The center is currently in the process of building a computer lab, and developing sewing, jewelry making and wooden artisan crafts workshops. The community center provides a place for the community to work together, strengthen relationships and find creative solutions to the challenges their community faces, including violence and unemployment.
Role of Casa Student: Casa students are involved in a variety of activities at the community center. In the library, Casa students may participate in such activities as tutoring, homework help, teaching English, playing board games, and cataloguing books. Casa students are also encouraged to be creative and offer opportunities depending on personal interests and capacities (drawing/painting classes, music classes, yoga, etc.). Students will also have the opportunity to assist in the preparing food for the comedor, as well as work in the green house learning to sow seeds and cultivate plants. Other opportunities include visiting the local school and accompanying the scholarship students, spending time with children during recess, and talking with the teachers. In addition, Casa students in Las Delicias learn about the reality in which the people live not only by conducting many home visits and visiting the farms of the community members, but also by engaging in conversation with the youth, young adults, and adults in the community.