Update: A Change of Mission

This was the time of my life.

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).

Teaching in Santa Tecla, El Salvador

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.

Flooding in the streets of Santa Tecla, El Salvador

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.  

Bags of food ready for distribution to families.

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.

33 thoughts on “Update: A Change of Mission

  1. Deeksha Pathak

    Lot of courage is required to do this work in hard times. Here in India we are also paying car cleaners, house helpers, apartment maintenance staff three months salary as they all had returned to their native.

  2. Spatz

    Thank you for sharing this, Chris. What a wonderful thing Joaquin is doing for his community. I’ve shared on FB and Twitter to help spread the message.

  3. Pingback: Thank you | Milford Street

  4. Ann Coleman

    Thank you for sharing that. We sometimes forget the very real problems these shut downs have caused for people who don’t have the financial resources to ride them out.

  5. Sandra

    This is so awesome Chris! What a great cause to support. Thank you for the information and the introduction to Joaquin’s mission. I hope you’re doing well.

  6. Pingback: Sharing the news: A Change of Mission – Spatzenblog

  7. Sarah

    And here we all were in the western world lamenting the lack of toilet paper and flour – I feel ashamed that I belonged to them. 😦
    This crisis, as so many before, hits the poorest of the poor so much worse than any of us can imagine. What’s happening in Brazil these days is terrifying – mass graves everywhere and no end in sight. And what’s the topic (almost) everyone is talking about here in Europe? If we can go on holiday this year! It makes me sick just to think of it. 😬
    Going to share your post, Chris.

      1. Sarah

        Yes! Can you believe it – our news are full at the moment where you’re allowed to go for holidays at the moment, and the measures that are being taken to guarantee you’re not going to be infected. Can’t people stay home once and do what’s right? Do they always have to have everything what they want instantaneously and without giving a damn thought how this effects other people?

      2. milfordstreet Post author

        On the upside, if some people can get out for holiday, it may allow some of those business to keep going until this is over. But it should not be the big focus.

  8. Pingback: Every little helps! “Update: A Change of Mission — Milford Street” | Art Expedition

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