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

Our Note on the COVID19 Situation El Salvador

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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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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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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.

 


 

LEER MÁS↓

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.

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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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Capacity Building, delegation, education

An Educational Adventure

DSC_0379This past summer was full of really exciting visits. The El Salvador staff traveled to the U.S. to take part in the annual board meeting in Maryland, and two delegations visited us here in El Salvador. The first was an awesome group of young chess coaches and the second was a wonderfully dedicated group of staff from the renowned Carlos Rosario International adult charter school in Washington, D.C.

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This marks the fourth year the group has come to explore, learn and exchange with the people of El Salvador. Recently, they have focused on creating an intentional partnership with the Amando Lopez community school in the Bajo Lempa. The reason the delegates come is not only to increase the cultural awareness they possess for Salvadorans, a population that makes up the majority of their students back home; but also to be able to exchange knowledge with the educators and leaders of the communities that they visit.

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They held meetings with inspiring groups working on youth development, women’s empowerment, LGBTQ rights, and environmental justice. They traveled to Morazán and learned about the history while listening to hopeful opinions about a peaceful future.

In the Bajo Lempa, they facilitated various workshops with the educators and community members on topics such as Self-care in the classroom, reading techniques, the risks of social media, among others. They themselves received workshops in turn from the community’s school staff which you can see more of below in the video.

 

We want to extend our gratitude to the people behind the scenes who made this an unforgettable delegation, and to those who made donations to rural education throughout the various campaigns. With this money, the Amando Lopez school will improve infrastructure, purchase necessary teaching material, musical instruments and fix school computers.

Until Next Year!

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.