Our trips to El Salvador provide the opportunity for several key elements:
1. To build a relationship with the people of Bajo Lempa and to support them in their struggles, hopes and dreams.
2. To expose our American young people to a culture and people who have different values than our culture, while walking alongside of them to process the differences.
3. To be involved in real and meaningful solutions to extreme poverty in the world and to empower our teenagers to be a part of something real.
In regards to discovering solutions to working with poverty, we have discovered several foundational truths:
1. Build a relationship – This is not about charity. This is about building a long-lasting friendship and then being there for one another.
2. Promote local leadership – we don’t live in Bajo Lempa – it is their community and they are the ones with the solutions.
3. Clean Water first. There is almost no reason to develop others solutions if children do not have access to consistent, well-maintained, adequate clean water.
4. Bring our expertise to the table: specifically, we can run clinics and provide access to basic medical and sometimes life-saving resources that would never be available in these communities.
5. Education – how can we partner with the local leadership to make education more accessible to more young people.
6. Food sovereignty – what can be done to support people’s ability to take ownership of their own food supply.
some ways we've accomplished this
- Worked with Living Water to build two clean water wells for drinking water
- Provided literally tons of medical supplies, doctors, nurses, and dentists year after year
- Constructed a second school building allowing for the hiring of more teachers
- Enhanced sanitation projects by continually building latrines in the community
- Purchased bicycles for 80 adolescents to improve access to secondary education
- Constructed a Catholic chapel
- On-going irrigation projects to equip farmers with the ability to grow throughout the dry season
- Helped start Young Life in the city of San Salvador