“TODAY it is time for every child to have a right to life, right to freedom, right to health, right to education, right to safety, right to dignity, right to equality, and right to peace.”
-Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Laureate
Art for El Salvador is an organization that uses art in all its forms as means through which to support and uplift impoverished communities in El Salvador. Through the sale and celebration of art in our home communities here in the US, we aim to support projects of development for those suffering from the inequalities of extreme poverty in El Salvador. Art for El Salvador encourages individuals to embrace their role as citizens within the global community.
Art for El Salvador was formed in the summer of 2010 by Niah, Maria, and Sarah Howard. The summer of 2009 Niah and Maria had the opportunity travel to El Salvador on a mission trip with the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas Center. The project began the next summer as a way to give back in some small way. The sisters set up at the local farmers market in Dallas Center and sold their own artwork and pieces donated from friends and community members- drawings, painted boxes, t-shirts, photographs, etc. Since that first summer, the project has grown significantly to include hundreds of people devoted to global education.
Sarah’s School, which was built in memory of Sarah Howard, is a 7th-9th grade school serving the children of Caserio Mediagua, El Salvador. When Sarah passed away following a tragic car accident in August of 2010, the Howard family decided to continue the work of Art for El Salvador in a way that kept Sarah’s memory alive. Because Sarah was a devoted student who valued her education and was deeply committed to service work in El Salvador, the family decided that building a school in her name would be a meaningful way to honor her legacy.
The funding of the school was made possible through support from countless individuals, community organizations, churches, artists, and students of all ages across the state of Iowa who believed in the dream of Sarah’s School. The building was constructed by parents of children from Caserio Mediagua, a powerful testament to the parents’ outstanding commitment to the education of their children. As one parent explained, “I don’t have the money to build my children a school. But I have my hands.”
In a world where millions of the most marginalized children are unjustly deprived of their human right to education, Sarah’s School is providing new opportunities to a generation of children who otherwise would have had to stop attending school after 6th grade. This education is the beginning of a meaningful process, one which fosters development within these children’s communities and beyond, and serves as a tool with which these children may someday elevate themselves out of poverty.
Art for El Salvador at UNI
Art for El Salvador is an active student organization at the University of Northern Iowa. It was founded in 2012 through the guidance and leadership of Professor Denise Tallakson, who is the organization’s faculty advisor. At UNI, Art for El Salvador holds regular art nights to make art to sell and holds an annual fundraising event called Art from the Heart every February.
Our Work Today
Since the school was completed in January of 2015, we have funded several additional projects including a renovation project of Caserio Mediagua’s K-6 school, a road project to enhance accessibility to the school, and a scholarship project so that students are able to continue onto high school if they choose to do so. We are currently working to fund the construction of two classrooms in the community of Loma Alta. We are also working with teachers and community leaders from other rural communities to learn about ways that we can continue to help provide educational resources and opportunities to the children of El Salvador.
“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.”
-Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Laureate and Global Education Activist