EL SALVADOR: Salesian Organization FUSALMO Positively Impacts Lives of More Than 265,000 Children and Their Families
(MissionNewswire) FUSALMO, a Salesian-run organization, offers traditional and non-traditional educational opportunities for at-risk youth in the communities within San Salvador, El Salvador. Through recreational programs, enrichment opportunities in the arts and music, vocational training, and more, youth are able 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. Founded in 2001, the organization has positively impacted the lives of more than 265,000 children and their families.
El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in Central America, along with Honduras and Guatemala. The murder rate in El Salvador rose more than 44 percent in the beginning months of 2014 when compared to the same time period the year before. 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 a sense of family that counters the lack of education and employment opportunities offered in the country.
Crime is often associated with poverty and close to 35 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.
Conditions of poverty and violence have driven many families to send their children out of the country along dangerous routes north to reach the U.S. border in search of safety and educational opportunities. Families often feel this journey is less risky than what their children face at home.
FUSALMO works to address the root causes of poverty, inequality and violence and give youth a chance for a better life in their own communities. Through the organization’s Don Bosco Youth Integral Program, three sports centers were developed in Soyapango, San Miguel and Santa Ana, allowing more than 55,000 youth to benefit from this program. The sports centers offer youth a safe space to connect with their peers and supportive adults while accessing training on creating a culture of peace, vocational guidance, adapted physical education, sports, technology, labor, culture and other topics.
“FUSALMO develops educational activities that allow youth to discover their vocational specialties,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Through the organization’s sports centers, youth are provided with comprehensive educational tools and the foundation of promoting a culture of peace within their homes and broader communities.”
FUSALMO has been the recipient of USAID funding to take the educational model developed in these sports centers and provide the program in 664 schools in high-risk areas. The organization receives its funding from the Foundation for Salvadoran Integral Education (FEDISAL), the primary USAID partner, who has engaged several organizations in this initiative. The program started in 2013 and will run through 2018. FUSALMO provides these schools assistance in sports, technology, art, culture and education about coexisting in peace.
From August 2015 through July 2016, FUSALMO also facilitated a Young Entrepreneurs in IT project that was funded by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The primary objective of the project was to train youth in technical knowledge based on the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum with IT essentials, along with comprehensive training in entrepreneurship. These educational programs helped 231 youth to have the necessary skills to start their own business, generating self-employment and job opportunities for others.
“These Salesian programs are working to ensure that youth have the opportunities they need to gain an education and develop skills for employment, allowing them to remain in their home country,” adds. Fr Hyde. “Salesian missionaries focus on prevention. They address the root causes and reasons people leave their countries and provide programs to help youth gain the opportunities at home they seek elsewhere. This improves their lives and their communities as a whole.”
MissionNewswire – Youth Get Technical, Entrepreneurship Skills for Long-Term Employment
Salesian Missions – FUSALMO
World Bank – El Salvador