EL SALVADOR: Over 432,000 youth helped in 20 years of FUSALMO
Salesian-run FUSALMO has served more than 432,000 youth in its 20-year history
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run FUSALMO, located in the municipality of Soyapango in the San Salvador department of El Salvador, recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary. The organization provides education and social development programs for children and older youth who are in situations of social vulnerability.
FUSALMO was created thanks to the efforts of the Salesians of El Salvador, the Association of Salesian Cooperators and the Foundation for Integral Education of El Salvador. During its time in operation, FUSALMO has served more than 432,000 youth within its programs.
Since 2004, FUSALMO’s flagship program, Don Bosco Integral Youth Program, has helped students complete their secondary education. This program has grown stronger over time thanks to the support of national and international organizations. Furthermore, two years ago the program began offering additional skills training to ensure that youth are ready to be part of the changing workforce.
“The pandemic challenged how we normally work with youth,” explained Father Pierre M. Vitelli, president of FUSALMO. “However, our vocation is stronger and has motivated us to accelerate the process of creating virtual FUSALMO. Through a platform called Transforma, we are committed to serving young people everywhere. We have created a virtual space, where children can find and have fun with friends.”
Transforma has been adapted for mobile devices. Courses are completely free and available to all users who wish to register, regardless of where they go to school. Around 3,000 children and older youth are expected to benefit in their educational development.
FUSALMO has also been recognized internationally and nationally. In 2019, the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development awarded the Ad Vitam prize to FUSALMO’s founder, Father Alfonso Evertsz, who dedicated his life to youth in El Salvador during more than 50 years of priesthood. In 2018, through the Ministry of Education of El Salvador, FUSALMO received a special mention from the president of the Republic.
FUSALMO offers traditional and non-traditional educational opportunities for at-risk youth. Through recreational programs, enrichment opportunities in the arts and music, vocational training, and more, youth are encouraged to stay off the streets, learn to cooperate and co-exist, and gain the skills they need to become productive, contributing members of a more peaceful society.
El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in Central America, along with Honduras and Guatemala. In 2016, San Salvador was named the murder capital of the world, seeing more murders and violent crime than any other city. Gang violence is a leading cause of violence in the country, and it’s estimated that some 60,000 young people have gang affiliation. Gang involvement often offers a sense of belonging and family that counters the lack of education and employment opportunities offered in the country.
Crime is often associated with poverty and close to 22 percent of El Salvador’s population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. Youth in El Salvador are confronted not only with poverty but with instability, high levels of violence and inadequate access to educational opportunities. Despite ranking high for economic indicators, the need for practical education in El Salvador is more important than ever with 12 percent of youth ages 15-24 unemployed and 41 percent underemployed.
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Salesian Missions – El Salvador
World Bank – El Salvador