5 Weeks. $5,000.

This project has been an ambitious one from the beginning. When we decided to build the school, we didn’t know how we were going to do it. As we get closer to our goal, we’re not slowing down. We need to raise $5,000 in only 5 weeks. And after three years of working in community with so many people, we know we can do it. People have surprised us from the beginning; we’ve been humbled by so many; we’ve seen so much generosity.

Here’s a video to show you why we are working hard to make this school a reality. To show you why we need to raise $5,000 in only 5 weeks. Maria did an amazing job putting this video together. Thank you to the Section Quartet for generously allowing us usage of their song “Road to Austin.”

Sarah’s School Benefit Concert!

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On August 30th, Art for El Salvador will be holding our third annual benefit concert! We are so excited to host this event at Vaudeville Mews from 3:00pm-7:00pm. Brother Trucker, Rainbow Penley and Jeremy Alvarez, and a few other friends will be playing music for you all. We are only $6,000 away from funding Sarah’s School and plans are in place to start construction at the end of September! So spread the word, and let’s break down to break ground!

Meet Efraín

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Efraín is a member of the Mediagua community. We got a chance to speak to him outside of his home and learn about his family. He and his family live on a coffee finca in a 70 year old house. The house though, is not their own. Instead it belongs to the finca owner, meaning that Efraín and his family are squatters. They know that when the owners come, they will have to leave. And they are constantly in fear of when this will happen.

All three of Efraín’s sons attend the Mediagua school. His oldest, Luis is 14 and is currently in 3rd grade. Aloberto, who is 12, is also in the 3rd grade. Efraín’s youngest is Marcos, who is 10 and in 1st grade. Efrain dreams that his children can get to a “high grade to get a job.” But it is difficult. Efraín’s job at the coffee finca has all but disappeared; he only gets work there a few days. Like most in rural El Salvador, he relies on subsistence farming and maintains his two manzanas of corn. But he’s eager to help build the school and is excited at the opportunity it will provide for his three sons.

“We don’t have anything. But we can put our hands in it.”

Mediagua School Project

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

Visit to Caserio Mediaugua!

On July 4th, Maria and I (Niah) will be heading to El Salvador to visit with the community where Sarah’s school will be built! We are so excited to spend four days meeting the teachers, students, and community members of Caserio Mediagua. This is a very small, rural community outside of the city of Berlin in Usulutan, El Salvador. We are working closely with the organization Our Sister Parish and will be staying the week at the Parish house in Berlin. We are so grateful to the guidance that the Parish Team has given us and for the work they are doing in preparation for our visit- meeting with the construction team members, creating a budget, and having conversations with the teachers and leaders of the current school in Mediagua.

We’re excited to learn more about what our partnership in this community will look like as we continue to move forward and get closer to fully funding the Sarah’s school project! As I mentioned, this area is a small but it has a high population of children. The school that exists is in desperate need of repairs. Our project will aid in the much needed repairs of the current school and will fund the construction of a new building. More classrooms means more room for more students to receive an education. We hope that the building of a school in Mediagua will allow more children to continue their education.

Thank you everyone for your enormous support of the project! Make sure to check our Facebook page for updates and pictures from the trip!

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