Community News, Disasters

Community Octavio Ortiz Will Soon Inaugurate their Casa Comunal

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In 2012, the Octavio Ortíz community decided to rebuild their casa comunal.
The new infrastructure is more spacious and has a higher foundation, which is fundamental considering that in the past the communities in this part of ​​the country have suffered greatly from floods caused by the overflow of the Lempa River. This building will serve as a shelter for natural disasters and emergency situations.

The beginning wasn’t easy.
Elmer Portillo, who at that time was serving as the President of the community, recently commented on the committed effort put into the the project, “When we began the construction of the new communal house, we didn’t have enough money, nor secured support from NGOs or institutions, we only had the will and the ability to work.”

Despite these limitations, this is the result. DSC_3116A spacious modern structure with impressive architecture.

The community contributed 100% of the labor and also some of the economic resources to purchase materials such as concrete blocks, cement and zinc sheets. Various other sources, among them VOICES, have supported the project with small donations over the years. VOICES made a final donation of $4,750 for the installation of the floor, which will conclude the project in the next few months.

VOICES ON THE BORDER congratulates the community, especially its board of directors for all their determination and hard work.

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Capacity Building, education, Womens issues

Maria’s Dream to Teach

Meet Maria, 


Maria is a popular education teacher in the Amando Lopez community grade school who VOICES is committed to supporting this year, by providing her with the living wage that she is not entitled to by the Ministry of Education because she lacks certain academic credentials.

Maria teaches Science, Health, Environment, Literature, Arts and Physical Education classes to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

Maria’s days begin early.

She wakes up at 4AM to clean her home, wash dishes and prepare breakfast for her husband and 4 year old daughter Hazel. After she drops Hazel off at Preschool, she begins her own school day. At noon, she picks up Hazel and goes home to prepare lunch, rest in her hammock and if she’s not called on to be a substitute teacher for the afternoon session, she prepares for the following day of classes. At the end of the day she washes clothes and prepares dinner for everyone before going to bed around 10pm.


Maria is no stranger to hard work.

“I’ll always remember the summer before 9th grade, when my father told me that I wouldn’t be able to study because it was time for my younger siblings to start school. I felt really sad. I told him that I would pay my own way. That was the day I began working mornings with my brothers and father in the sugarcane fields. When we were done, I would run home as fast I could to wash up and get ready for my afternoon classes. After school I worked on my aunt’s chicken farm. That is how I put myself through high school.”

Increasing the quality of education in our partner communities continues to be of importance to VOICES. In recent years, we have supplemented teachers’ salaries, provided school transportation, covered operational expenses, provided small scholarships for high school students and continuing education courses for teachers.

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Last year, VOICES’ board members were so impressed by Maria’s commitment to teach that we were compelled to make a commitment of our own. Since Maria doesn’t officially show up on the school’s roster, they can only pay her $100 per month.

Maria’s goal is to get her teacher’s license through a distance learning program offered by the National University of El Salvador (UES). Supplementing Maria’s salary will allow her to support her family, afford the costs involved in her coursework and assure a brighter future.

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Visit to help make Maria’s dream a reality.

* Popular education is a people-oriented and people-guided approach to education that creates a horizontal transmission of knowledge from a teacher to students by adapting to participants and their context. LEARN MORE

World Day of Non-use of Pesticides

Today was the World Day of Non-use of Pesticides and the Mesa por la Soberanía Alimentaria aka Bureau for Food Sovereignty held a press conference, to once again denounce the indiscriminate use go Agrotoxins in El Salvador. It was led by Doris Evangelista, a member of the Mesa along with a family who shared their story.


Rosalía Grande López has lost three out of four sons to renal failure, and Oscar, her 4th son, is currently struggling with the disease and almost lost his battle with it two years ago. Rosalía’s house sits in the middle of sugar cane fields, in San Luis Talpa, a muncilaplity with some of the highest rates of chronic renal failure in El Salvador, a disease predominantly found in rural areas where people produce the country’s food supply.

“Sadly,” Doris reminds us, “Rosalía’s heartbreaking story is similar to thousands of other families, from Acajutla to La Union.”

She reads the press release; the facts seem unbelievable…

  • Renal failure is the number one cause of hospital mortality in Salvadoran men.
  • Worldwide, agrotoxics kill 335 million people/year, that’s 40 deaths/ hour.
  • Monsanto, and five other countries, control 60% of the global agrotoxic market.

The public health system in El Salvador is free and provides dialysis treatments and medications to patients with the disease, however the majority of these public hospitals don’t have the necessary equipment and/or medication and therefore are unable to provide the prescribed treatments for all their patients.

Oscar is prescribed two dialysis treatments weekly, but usually the hospital runs out of medication, meaning it can only perform one a week, leaving Oscar to either pay $25-$50 extra a week for medication, or forgo the second treatment, which consistently is his only option.

In El Salvador, even though laws exists, even though the health ministry has demonstrated a strong correlation between agrotoxicos and renal failure and their use has been denounced by both the Human Rights Ombudsman and the United Nations, thousands of people continue to suffer and die as transnational corporations like Monsanto enjoy profits in the billions.

The Mesa is “very concerned that the use of agrochemicals is seriously affecting water, soil, biodiversity, the local economy and food sovereignty throughout the country.” Their concerns seem justifiable, especially with the large-scale sugar cane industry boasting that 2020 will prove to be their best harvest ever.

“They will applaud while we suffer,” lamented Doris, before concluding the conference with a shout out to government institutions and civil society to come together and strategize a campaign against Big Sugar, “because this” she says, “is also about the right to life.”

ComunicadoSV_Día mundial del no uso de pesticidas (en español).
Video breve (en español).
agriculture, Agua/Aqua, Climate Change, El Salvador Government, Environment, Food Security, Public Health, Uncategorized, Water/Agua

MOVIAC Marches to Promote Agroecology in El Salvador


The organizations that make up the Movement of Victims Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC), took to the streets of San Salvador alongside environmental activists to create awareness about the negative impacts the indiscrimate use of Agrochemicals has on the health and safety of El Salvador.

According to MOVIAC, “Agroecology brings together sustainable and ancestral agricultural practices in order to unify the relationship between nature and humans and guarantee food saftey.”

Farmers, families, educators, leaders, young and old, marched together towards the Legislative Assembly to present a proposed law for the promotion of Agroecology, as a way to mitigate the impacts of climate change. They were met by senior government officials on the environmental committee and were able to submit the documents.




Diariocolatino: Propuesta de Ley de Fomento de la Agroecologia sera Presentada la Semana Proxima
DiarioLibre: Exigen Ley para Impulsar la Agroecologia en El Salvador y Prohibir Pesticidas
education, Public Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health

ECHO El Salvador has Moved to Morazán

ECHO El Salvador has expanded it’s reach and is wrapping up its first training session for educators and health promoters in the department of Morazán.

Maritza and Evelyn; our local coordinators

With the help of a great local coordination team and support from from both the ministry of health and education, we were able to compile an impressive list of participants who have been coming together every saturday to receive the training courses from the  team of experts from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

We learned a lot from our work down in the Bajo Lempa which prompted us make some changes to the program here in the East. For example, during our Morazán conscription, we made sure to invite not only teachers but their directors as well, so that once the training is over the school teams will have an easier time planning and replicating the classes in their respective institutions.


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We also hope to have greater success with local capacitation in the communities, which is why we invited Daniel Perez, Morazán’s health promoter supervisor, to attend this first training session. Not only did he accept but has also offered to assist us in the coordination and monitoring of his team once they are on the ground and imparting classes.

In the Bajo Lempa, we trained 60 participants from six different communities and in Morazán, a total of 75 participants from 16 municipalities will receive training.

Stay tuned to see their progress.


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