Drivers of Conflict in El Salvador

By Jana Stohler, CDF/ConDev Intern

After reviewing Texas A&M’s guidelines on how to conduct surveys, I held several sessions throughout the week to conduct surveys on conflict and was able to accomplish half of our goal within the first week. This accomplishment so exceeded our expectations! I submitted 90 completed surveys to ConDev researchers for analysis. I know the information collected through these surveys will be very useful to the ConDev Center at Texas A&M University.

 Salvadoran women are completing surveys on drivers of conflict for CDF/ConDev's research program. 

Salvadoran women are completing surveys on drivers of conflict for CDF/ConDev's research program. 

I’ve also been overwhelmed and filled with joy this week as I’ve observed SHIP’s outreach to the women in the community that helps them provide for their families. We renamed the formerly SonRisa business program for women “Emporio Lidia” this week. The youth education program continues to be in full swing. The school year in El Salvador is from January to November, and this is about the halfway point through the year. Each month, the teachers and the SHIP’s NGO President recognize and celebrate the students for their accomplishments over the month, and this month was no different. Today, the children were recognized for everything from good behavior to academic improvements, and all the children were so excited. The parents were there to celebrate with their children, too!

It’s also teacher appreciation week in El Salvador, and the children celebrated their teachers with balloons, making decorations, and bringing in a cake. They made personal cards, and gave gifts to their teachers. The joy and love shared within SHIP’s education program was evident through the celebrations held here today.

This week has been a whirlwind of activity! We always have ongoing projects at SHIP El Salvador, but when a group of over 20 volunteers from Oklahoma and Texas arrived on June 20, it got even busier. On Saturday, many of them began working on the week’s major construction project by demolishing a neighbor’s “house” in 30 minutes and then preparing to rebuild it. After a week of non-stop work, the house was framed, and within a few days, it will be completed for the family of seven. By Salvadoran standards, it will be one of the nicest homes in the neighborhood when it is complete. Although this team of volunteers came to work on this project and have now returned to the States, their impact on the community will continue being felt for a long time because they poured their hearts out as they worked, laughed, and cried with those they served. They were truly servants to this community.

In addition to the ongoing outreach projects and my continuing internal growth, two more volunteer teams will be arriving on June 28 and July 5 to continue with additional outreach projects in the community. SHIP El Salvador has a heart for this community, and they are truly blessing so many around them with their caring hearts and loving hands.