Did you know that more than 1/3 of our scholarship recipients are single mothers? That 82% of recipients don’t have access to the internet at home? Or that more than half do not have a guaranteed income each month?
If you’ve ever paused to think about the lives of the families we support, or are curious about life in El Salvador in general, then welcome to the first post in a 3 month series on the blog that will delve into a variety of socioeconomic aspects affecting the lives of Programa Velasco families!
We hope that the information presented here will help you see life in El Salvador through the eyes of the San Ramón community that we work alongside and that many of you are helping to support. This first post will serve as an introduction to how our scholarship program works, how children are selected, and what our scholarship students look like this year.
Our 2016 Scholarship Families
At the Alfonso Acevedo Child Development Center (known as the CDI), families have been enrolling their children for 2016 since the end of last year. January marks the beginning of the school year here in El Salvador, which is coordinated around the heaviest period of the coffee harvest season that takes place in November and December, and in which many rural children and families depend on for their economic livelihood. Though urban families like those in San Ramón are less likely to engage in agricultural work, all public schools nationally follow the same schedule.
Upon enrollment at the center, our social worker conducts an interview to collect socioeconomic data from families, and if requesting the support of a Programa Velasco scholarship, a house visit is conducted by staff to confirm the family’s situation. As part of our mission, Programa Velasco seeks to support the most vulnerable families from the community who would not otherwise have the means to pay the $45 monthly cost per child of attending.
As an early education center, the CDI attends children between the ages of 2 and 6. Formal education, including public schools, begins at first grade for 7 year olds, so enrollment at the center provides an important opportunity for children to accelerate their development while at the same time allowing their parents and caregivers the chance to work and provide for their families. At the end of January, a total of 82 children had enrolled at the center, and 49 scholarships were assigned.
Some Programa Velasco scholarships are still in reserve as it is likely that more children will enroll as the year continues, and we will keep you updated on these numbers as they change. Over the next 3 months, we’ll be exploring different aspects of these families’ lives and connecting them to what life looks like in El Salvador more broadly. We’ll take a look at the most common types of employment, what it means to earn the minimum wage or to be part of the informal economy, and what kind of housing conditions and arrangements are seen in the community, amongst other topics.
We hope you enjoy learning more about the families we support through this series. Be sure to check back each Monday for a new post!