Programa Velasco’s goal has always been to create a positive impact in the lives of Salvadoran families, aimed at breaking the cycle of violence, gender inequality, and poverty in which they live. With the new Families United Project in Tepecoyo, PV is building on its strong history of social impact work and commitment to the Salvadoran people.
Almost 15 years ago, we began financing scholarships for children to attend the Development Center run by our partner organization, ANADES, in the community of San Ramón. We then created our flagship program, the Women’s Empowerment Project (WEP), accompanying women entrepreneurs in San Ramón and the rural community of Tepecoyo in their journeys of economic and personal empowerment. Yet, we saw a gap in our approach, and we wanted to do more.
Through our work with women and children, we became aware of the need for a project that strengthens the family system in order to improve conditions in early childhood development and education – a must for building stronger futures for communities and for El Salvador.
In late 2021, we were awarded a “Generous Promise” grant from The Congregation of St. Joseph to meet that need through a new project in Tepecoyo called “Familias Unidas” or the Families United Project in Tepecoyo (PFUT in Spanish). We will launch the project in 2022 by working with the families close to the entrepreneurs who were part of the WEP to expand our impact in their lives and the life of the community.
Who will participate in the Project and what is the objective?
The PFUT is directed toward parents and caregivers (PMC in Spanish) of children aged 6 months to 6 years. The goal is to work with 50 “pairs,” each pair made up of a PMC and a child. The goal is to strengthen each of these families by working to improve the abilities and self-confidence of parents and caregivers, who are children’s first “teachers,” by providing them opportunities to learn about early childhood development and help them put that learning into practice.
To strengthen the abilities and self-confidence of parents and caregivers to contribute positively to the early childhood development of children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years for whom they are responsible.
Who makes up the PFUT team??
The PFUT team includes a Psychologist and an Early Childhood Development Specialist, who will create a safe space for the participants to share their experiences and learn about responsible parenting and caregiving, including topics such as the control and expression of emotions, and the growth and development of boys and girls. Each “pair” will have the opportunity to participate in the three components that represent the PV layered approach. The team will run educational and interactive workshops with PMC in addition to providing mental health care and psychosocial support, using a similar model to our flagship Women’s Empowerment Project, adapted to the needs of this new population.
During the first weeks of 2022, the team has been engaged in planning program activities and promoting the project. We have coordinated with the Tepecoyo Municipal Mayor’s Office and the Tepecoyo School Center with the aim of creating a team of volunteers including high school and college students who will provide additional support in the workshops with the PMC and carry out recreational activities with the children that support their development and what their parents are learning about.
The team is inviting the support of the local Community Development Associations (ADESCOs) and health promoters to begin reaching out to families who meet the program’s requirements, which include, among other criteria, having a child aged 6 months to 6 years old and committing to attend 100% of the workshops.
What activities will take place and when?
PFUT activities will take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week.
Once the selection process is completed, the pairs of PMC and their children will be placed into four, smaller groups for better support and to reduce the size of our gatherings, in consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Educational workshops for PMC will take place on Tuesday mornings and afternoons, with the groups rotating in the first two weeks of the project workshop cycle.
During the third and fourth weeks of every workshop cycle, the PMC will participate in an interactive workshop with their children, where they will put into practice the new skills acquired during the educational workshops.
On Wednesdays, the team will provide mental health care and psychosocial support alternately to the four different groups, utilizing PV’s mental health clinic in Tepecoyo for private one-on-one meetings.
Activities are projected to begin on March 15. We couldn’t be happier about this opportunity to fulfill our dream of working directly with Salvadoran families during the crucial first years of children’s lives. We trust that this will be a chance for the participants to get to know each other better, build community with other parents and caregivers, and thus strengthen their relationships and break with traumatic cycles that have been passed down through generations suffering from poverty, violence, and displacement.
Help is always welcome. You can support the new Familias Unidas project by making a donation to Programa Velasco or by sponsoring a PMC-child pair as they begin their new journeys with Families United.