COVID 19, human rights, News Highlights, Youth Development

Great Music for a Great Cause!

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ConciertoBenefico 2021 event banner(eng)

It’s that time of year again for Voices on the Border’s Solidarity Concert!

 Last year, we surpassed our fundraising goal of $2,000, and this year we hope to do the same. We will be fundraising to pay the amazing bands that will be performing and to support a Sexual Health Peer Education program run by adolescents and young adults in the rural department of Morazan.

 

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ConciertoBenefico 2021 event banner

¡Es esa época del año nuevamente para el Concierto Solidario de Voces en la Frontera!

El año pasado, superamos nuestra meta de recaudación de fondos de $2,000 y este año esperamos hacer lo mismo. Recaudaremos fondos para pagar a las increíbles bandas que se presentarán y para apoyar un programa de educación de pares sobre salud sexual dirigido por adolescentes y adultos jóvenes en el departamento rural de Morazán.

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Capacity Building, education, Public Health, solidarity, Youth Development

Education in Times of Covid-19

Socially speaking, El Salvador was already deteriorating before COVID-19 hit, owing to rising rates of poverty and extreme poverty, the persistence of inequalities and growing social discontent. In this context, the pandemic was to inevitably have a profoundly negative impact on various social sectors, particularly public health and education.

Even before the pandemic, VOICES has been working with rural schools and families in an attempt to radically improve the culture of learning throughout these regions, by identifying and addressing major gaps in educational outcomes. Since the pandemic began, we’ve been supporting initiatives that deploy distance learning modalities through a variety of formats and platforms (both on and off-line), while also supporting the mobilization of education personnel and students and helping these institutions stay equipped with the necessary biomedical resources to ensure the overall well-being of students and their families.
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Building a Dignified Learning Environment
Isla de Monte Cristo, Bahia del Jiquilisco
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In 1992, the Island of Monte Cristo was resettled by local farmers taking advantage of the postwar land transfer program. Today, the remote community contains acres of fruit trees, a handful of farming families, and hundreds of nesting birds.

Due to years of abandonment by both local and the national government, organizations like VOICES have been approached by local leaders to help them tackle specific issues like their lack of vital resources such as potable water and access to education.

Thanks in part to the generosity of South Bay Sanctuary Covenant, and the efforts of the islanders themselves in managing the logistics, the transportation of materials and the labor, their small school is in the middle of a complete makeover.

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Rural Mobile Technology Lab
Centro Escolar Amando Lopez, Bajo Lempa, Usulután
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The Mobile Tech Lab began in 2020, in response to the official closure of all Salvadoran educational institutions. Luckily for the kids, the Amando Lopez School staff have always been at the forefront of developing creative initiatives to entice students and keep communities learning.

The Lab is helping bridge the digital divide in the Bajo Lempa, by offering direct technology to students and computer skills to teachers. 112 students are currently taking part in the Lab, by attending in-person or virtual classes in communities Amando Lopez, La Canoa and 14th de Abril. The teaching staff continue to say that their goals are being accomplished through this program, goals such as keeping students and teachers connected, providing students the critical technological tools they need to succeed and strengthening the technical capabilities of the teachers.

It is also important to note that because of the school’s stringent biohealth approach, Amando Lopez has become a model for other institutions who wish to teach kids, during a global pandemic.

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Early Childhood Education Improvement
Bajo Lempa Preschools, Usulután
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Preschool teachers are critical agents of children’s social and emotional development, which in turn is a key predictor of their current and future academic and social success. Rural pre-schoools in El Salvador however are notorious for being left of the equation when it comes to government funding around paying dignified salaries, operational budgets, building infrastructures, etc.

For VOICES, it is important to support these institutions in their educational proceses by helping to supplement these shortcomings and offering them quality continuing education workshops with pedagogical professionals.

Recently, we worked with five different preschools in the Bajo Lempa to facilitate a series of highly interactive age and developmentally appropriate activities aimed at improving the methodological foundations of their curriculum and internal organizations.

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We want to reiterate our gratitude for our dear friends from South Bay Sanctuary Covenant of Northern California, St.John of God Church of San Francisco, the Carlos Rosario International school family in Washington D.C. and generous individuals and families who continue to understand the need for providing quality education in the middle of a pandemic. If it weren’t for each and everyone of you and the dedication and perseverance of our Salvadoran patterns, who knows how many bright young futures would be stifled and lost.

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COVID 19, education, youth, Youth Development

Moving with Purpose: Using Technology to Keep Kids in School

THE ORIENTATION
COVID-19 Prevention Protocol in English

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El Salvador’s public school students, both rural and urban, are facing an uncertain academic future due to COVID-19. As institutional disorganization at a national level leads to essential services, like education, becoming too complicated for communities to maneuver, at the same time, the Ministry of Education expects teachers, who have had very little experience with technology, to learn said technology on their own and teach via digital platforms to students who themselves often times cannot afford internet to access these platforms.

The Centro Escolar Amando Lopez Technology Lab is an inter-institutional initiative to connect teachers and students with the technology they need to advance in their academic goals. While we are confident that MINED will eventually achieve coherent policies and practices, we also recognize the current threat of mass retention and desertion looming over the country’s schools located in more marginalized regions.

This week we concluded our program and staff development as well as community orientations. Next Tuesday (7/28) the program begins!

In the end, we hope that this project can be an example of how to run a rural mobile technology lab, both during and after a pandemic.

CLICK HERE to learn more


Protocolo de la Prevención de COVID-19 en Español 

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Moviéndose con Propósito: El Uso de la Tecnología para Mantener el Alumnado en la Escuela

Lxs estudiantes de escuelas públicas de El Salvador, tanto rurales como urbanos, enfrentan un futuro académico incierto debido a COVID-19. Por la desorganización institucional a nivel nacional, los servicios esenciales, como la educación, se vuelven demasiado complicados para que las comunidades puedan gestionar y, al mismo tiempo, el Ministerio de Educación espera que la facultad de la escuelas, que tienen muy poca experiencia con la tecnología, aprendan dicha tecnología por su cuenta y enseñar a través de plataformas digitales a estudiantes, pero ellxs mismxs muchas veces no pueden pagar por internet para acceder a estas plataformas.

El Laboratorio Tecnológico del Centro Escolar Amando López es una iniciativa interinstitucional para conectar a maestrxs y estudiantes con la tecnología que necesitan para avanzar en sus objetivos académicos. Si bien confiamos en que MINED finalmente logrará políticas y prácticas coherentes, también reconocemos la amenaza actual de retención y deserción masiva, que se cierne sobre las escuelas del país ubicadas en regiones más marginadas.

Esta semana, concluimos nuestras reuniones de desarrollo del programa y de personal, así como las orientaciones de la comunidad. ¡El próximo martes (28/7) comienza el programa!

A fin de cuentas, esperamos que este proyecto pueda ser un ejemplo de cómo ejecutar un laboratorio educativo rural, tanto durante como después de una pandemia.

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education, Public Health, Voices Developments, Womens issues, Youth Development

Our Note on the COVID19 Situation El Salvador

Download the PDF letter

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March 19, 2020

Dear Friend,

El Salvador, like many countries around the world, is reeling from the effects of COVID19. To clamp down on the spread of the virus, on March 15th, the government declared a state of emergency and approved a partial suspension of constitutional rights. What does that look like?

  • Foreigners are prohibited from entering the country by land, air or sea. All who enter illegally or legally are subject to a mandatory quarantine in a government run facility.
  • All educational activities are suspended, private and public.
  • Crowd sizes exceeding fifty people, such as concerts or sporting events are canceled.
  • All bars, cafes and discos are closed; restaurants can only offer delivery or take out.
  • Trade will continue normally. Commercial activities will remain unchanged, including imports and exports, under the proper sanitary control at customs.
  • People are told to shelter in place and only venture out if truly necessary.

On March 18th, El Salvador registered it’s first single confirmed case of the virus, from a Salvadoran returning from Italy, who defied the barrier the President put in place around the perimeter of the country. Because of citizen denouncements, he was picked up and tested positive for the virus and subsequently the entire municipality of Metapan, in the department of Santa Ana has been cordoned off for the next 48 hours in an effort to find his line of infection.

Impacts on the Salvadoran Society
The majority of the population has reacted with panic, no matter how many calls for calm are made. Supermarkets are crowded and supplies are beginning to become scarce, partly because there is hoarding and price inflations. For example in some places bottled water is selling for three times its normal price.

Bukele has said that the department of labor will do what it can to make sure employers and workers are economically supported during the quarantine, but every hour labor abuses are being called out via social media of workers being indiscriminately laid, off, mistreated or made to work when they aren’t supposed to.
The sectors most economically impacted by this national quarantine are the service industry, domestic workers, day laborers, street vendors, factory and sweatshop workers. Also affected are those Salvadoran families who already live in El Salvador’s precarious situation of water shortage. For young girls and women who face abuse at home, the situation of isolation becomes even more serious. It encourages victim control and greater submission of the victim.

Impacts on VOICES’ work
VOICES, like other NGOs, is having to adapt to these measures. For example, this situation forced us to cancel the annual South Bay Sanctuary Covenant delegation this March, as well as suspend the special delegation of teachers from Amando López to the United States in April.
Likewise, the SBSC fundraising event scheduled for April 26 in California, at which our director was to speak, was canceled.

Also with the suspension of classes the reproduction phase of the ECHO project workshops in Morazán is on hold; likewise, some community activities, workshops and meetings.

It’s safe to say that human rights don’t simply go away because of a national quarantine, and neither will VOICES’ commitment to accompanying our local partners as best as we can. As an organization, VOICES’ staff are adhering to the rules put in place by working from home.
This involves catching up on programming materials and fine tuning our evaluation frameworks, but we are also finding other ways to support our partners in the following ways:

Women’s Network of Morazán (9 municipalities served)
– Providing 15 canasta basicas for the Network’s most vulnerable members and their families.

Amando Lopez grade school (9 communities served)
– While some students may enjoy the meal provided by the school, other families may see it as a lifeline. The school’s staff compiled a list of 88 students who are most at risk from malnutrition and we will work with them to find the best way to help feed these kids during the quarantine.

Youth Development Association of Morazán (3 communities served)
– This inspiring youth group has had to cancel all of their programming including their special activities, community events, workshops and schools like their school of nutrition, which not only serves as a means to teach recipes, but also supports families’ ability to practice food sovereignty through the family farms component. We will work with AJUDEM to ensure that those most affected will have access to plants, seeds and compost to keep their farms growing.

El Salvador is a resilient country full of ingenuity and as long as we continue to practice true solidarity, we will all be able to come out of this pandemic with heads high and the prospect for a brighter more sustainable future.

Atentamente,
The VOICES Team

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delegation, youth, Youth Development

Learners Without Borders 2019 Delegation to El Salvador

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Justin, Jeremy, Daniel, Quinn, Jack and Andrew

This year the Learner’s team grew and we were lucky to welcome back Jack and Jeremy and welcome for the first time Justin, Andrew, Quinn and Daniel. 

Not only did the Learners’ team grow since their last visit but the group that participated in the chess camp grew as well. Enthusiastic young people from six neighboring communities came to Amando Lopez to join in on the fun activities Learner’s team had planned.

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Before heading to the Bajo Lempa, the group explored San Salvador, the countries capital city. They hiked a volcano, walked around the historical center, leathered about important Salvadoran history, ate pupusas and even visited the Chess Federation of El Salvador. In the Bajo Lempa, when they weren’t planning chess, the team got to tour the community, it’s schools, the forests and even a local zoo. 

Close to 100 players participated in this year’s tournament and of course, everyone was a winner!

In the end, the Learner’s team sat down with the community to help them develop their own local chess club which we are very excited about.

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We know a lot of planning and fundraising went into this delegation which is why we want to thank Learners Without Borders, the young coaches for spending a part of their summer with us, and their families and friends who made this all possible.  

 

education, Food Security, Youth Development

AJUDEM’s School of Nutrition

Remember AJUDEM, that awesome and hardworking youth group in Morazán that serves numerous communities of Ciudad Segundo Montes and in the mountains bordering Honduras?

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Well, VOICES recently signed a new contract with them to support their programs, that we believe contribute to a culture of learning, well-being and non-violence that is desperately needed in the regions we serve.

Below, you can see how one of their programs, the School of Nutrition, plays an important role in the lives of the youth and their families.

education, youth, Youth Development

Ending Illiteracy Through Intergenerational Teaching

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We are very excited to share with you a new educational program in the Bajo Lempa that seeks to raise the literacy rates in Community Octavio Ortiz.

This literacy program is in coordination with the Community Board of Directors, the Ministry of Education (MINED) and Voices on the Border; who are managing and  finincing the program with funds donated by Arlene Schaupp, a long-time supporter of VOICES who remains in solidarity with the Salvadoran people.

Eleven students from the same community, in their third cycle of schooling (grades 10-12), are the ones facilitating the classes for the adults and seniors, using material provided by MINED. For the next three months, these young people will work with their elders for two hours a day, from Monday to Friday with one goal in mind:

Declare the community free of illiteracy!

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