At the beginning of July, Maria and I had the opportunity to travel to a community outside of Berlin, El Salvador called Caserio Mediagua. We had an amazing week visiting the school where Sarah’s school project will take place. We got to spend time with the students, teachers, and met many members of the Mediagua community.
On our first day in Mediagua we arrived at the school and were greeted by so many excited students. Even though my Spanish needs work, smiles are easy to translate and everyone at the school was very welcoming! After meeting the kids and introducing ourselves to the community members and teachers, we sat down for a meeting. During that initial meeting, we met with community leaders, the construction supervisors who will lead the school project, and the teachers at the school. This was a great opportunity to learn a lot about Mediagua and the community’s dreams for the school.
The current school in Mediagua is K-6. The community would like a new building so that they can eventually teach what they call third cycle, or 7-9th grades. The only option for the students in this community now to continue past 6th grade is to walk into the city of Berlin. This is at least a 30 min walk for the students, and is often much longer. One major concern, in addition to distance, is safety. Parents do not normally let their kids continue on to 7th grade because the walk is dangerous. Unfortunately, this is especially effecting girls. Parents are more likely to send their boys to 7th grade and beyond if they can. But often with girls, they feel it’s just too dangerous.
The existing school is also in need of major renovations. Art for El Salvador plans to help with both the renovations and the construction of the new building but we currently don’t have enough funds to support both. We asked the community what their priority is- the new school or the renovations. They decided that the new school was their priority because making sure the students can continue their education is extremely important. The renovations will include new windows, a new roof, and a more secure fence around the perimeter of the school. Right now all they have are metal bars so when it rains everything gets wet. The teachers can’t keep supplies in the school because of the rain and on some days the students are sent home because it’s raining too hard into the classrooms.
Throughout the rest of the week, Maria and I went on home visits throughout the Mediagua community. We met many parents who expressed a lot of excitement and support for the school project. Many of the parents reported that they had not had the opportunity to study. Some received a 1st or 2nd grade education, enough to learn to read and write; others had never been to school at all. It was tragic to hear that they had not had an opportunity to learn. But they all expressed a desire for their children to have better. As we continue to update our website, check back for more in-depth stories from the Mediagua families!
Finally, and most importantly, we got a chance to spend time with the students. We played outside, sang songs, read stories, and made art together. The art projects that we worked on included creating homemade bookmarks and making friendship bracelets. On the last day we had a fiesta to celebrate all of our time together!
Getting a chance to finally visit the community where the Sarah’s school project will take place was extraordinary. Putting a face to the students who will go there, meeting the parents who will help build it, and knowing the teachers who will care for the school makes the project real. We are so excited and motivated to make this project happen! Currently we have raised $20,000 which is an incredible accomplishment and a testament to the generosity of the communities where we live. But we have a long way to go to fully fund the school project; right now we need to raise $7,000 to cover the cost of constructing the new building. Knowing that if we can raise this money by September, the 6th graders who attend the Mediagua school will be able to continue their education, knowing that they won’t have to quit school as children, this is what motivates us. We can’t thank you enough for your support and we are so excited to make this dream become a reality!