Over the past few months, as part of our Environmental Education Program in the Bajo Lempa, VOICES along with the help of Marco Antonio González, a professional in Biotechnology, held a series of training workshops. These workshops covered important public health topics, like this one on Solid Waste Management facilitated for the Amando Lopez community. The participants are leaders, many of them young, and they are now tasked with educating their friends, their families, and visitors to the community on the topics they’ve learned.
Educación Ambiental en el Bajo Lempa
Durante los últimos meses, como parte de nuestro Programa de Educación Ambiental en el Bajo Lempa, VOCES realizó una serie de talleres, con la ayuda de Marco Antonio González, Lic. en Ecotecnologia. Los talleres cubrieron importantes temas de salud pública como este último en comunidad Amando Lopez, Gestión de Residuos Sólidos. Estos líderes, muchos jóvenes, ahora tienen la tarea de educar a sus amigos, sus familias y visitantes de la comunidad.
COVID-19 Prevention Protocol in English
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
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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MOVING FORWARD, ALWAYS
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March 19, 2020
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.
The VOICES Team
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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. A 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.
We’ve put together some of our highlights from the last 12 months.
2019 ANNUAL WORK REPORT
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.
This 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.