That’s me in the image above. It was taken in 2016 when I spent the summer teaching English as a volunteer at a public school for girls in El Salvador. (More information on my time there can be found here.) The program, Teaching You, has two components. I participated in the part that places volunteer teachers in a school for grades one through eight. It was the time of my life. The other part identifies students with the academic ability and character to succeed beyond eighth-grade graduation. It provides them with a summer school program and also awards scholarships so students can attend high school (aka secondary school).
In March, the President of El Salvador issued a strict stay at home order closing schools and most businesses to limit the effect of COVID-19 on the country. Joaquin, the director of the program, got the last volunteers on a flight back to their country hours before the international airport in El Salvador closed. With schools closed, Joaquin wondered what his mission would be. It didn’t take long for him to find out.
Through the confinement, Joaquin has maintained contact with the students who normally attend his summer school or to whom he awards scholarships. The parents of many of them lost their jobs when the stores and market stalls closed. Some families were forced to move from their apartments into single room flats. Obtaining basic food and medicine became an issue for them. To make matters words, a storm this past week brought flooding rains that filled the streets.
The mission of Teaching You has turned from education to providing humanitarian relief to these families. Joaquin has been visiting these families on a regular basis to bring them the necessities: pasta, rice beans, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, medicine, etc. He’s also helped with rent payment when a few families were in danger of losing their room. It has come at a personal cost to him. Normally, he and his wife live with Joaquin’s extended family, but Joaquin is nervous about passing Coronavirus to his parents. He is out in the community frequently, so this is a real concern. As a result, he’s moved out of the house to another location.
Like all of us, he hopes that this is temporary and that things will someday return to normal. But he wonders when anyone will be willing to come as a volunteer to El Salvador again.
If this story and these photos have touched you, I have a request.
I know that all of you are receiving requests from many different charities.
I know that all of you have needs in your own communities.
I know some of you have your own economic struggles right now.
However, if you can find it in your heart to give even a small portion of your usual charitable donations to Teaching You, you know it will directly help these families. If you are willing, please click here
If you can’t donate, please consider sharing this blog post on your favorite social media.
Thank you for reading.
Photo credits to Joaquin Batres.