CAFRED is on the road in El Salvador, searching for its next project. We have received leads from friends and colleagues, and from the Ministry of Education, to find just the right conditions and the right community. Some might ask, why is CAFRED so picky?
Over time, we have learned that the right community is always waiting for us somewhere – and it is our job to find it.
The Will to Fight
This mythical community is willing to toil and sweat, and be patient. It knows how to advocate for itself and it is actively searching for us just as we are in search of it. When we meet, it will be love at first sight.
What are we looking for in such a community?
Usually, the director and the teachers take money out of their own pockets to help decorate the school and make it a colorful environment – no matter how meager the conditions of the infrastructure itself.
The director of this sought after school is a born leader – passionate and creative, he or she works every day to overcome the odds. He or she she is a social worker, an child advocate, a community organizer, a fundraiser and an educator, and most of all, he or she is an optimist.
This community has done its homework. It has already fought to get ministry status as an official school, affording it a government stipend for school lunches, maintenance and teachers’ salaries. With limited resources, it has found land – rented, borrowed, bought or donated – to locate its present school. The community built it themselves from whatever materials they could find – be it bamboo, metal sheeting, mud
or plastic. This school is humble, but somehow
This school is usually on a dirt road,
far from any form of public transportation.
It has dirt floors, no electricity or running water.
When it rains, the sound on its tin roof is as loud
as a firing squad and in the afternoon the same
roof transfers enough heat to cause the classroom
to resemble a hot oven.
It usually lacks windows and/or electricity
and therefore, the lighting conditions are
minimal at best.
The school grounds flood during the rainy
season, leaving no space for recreation.
CAFRED works with this community, with
international donors and local and national
governments to build a brand new school.
CAFRED then stays on for two years, helping the community to build sustainability
for the school by sourcing undiscovered
wellsprings of local, national and world-wide
support. It implements extra-curricular
programs for children to offer alternatives
to involvement with gangs, and conducts
ongoing teacher training.