Lent 2021 newsletter
Larry Parr, El Salvador
Greetings from El Salvador! I hope this letter finds everyone well.
Here in El Salvador, our young people continue to face the harsh reality of being students living in this new global reality of COVID-19. In rural and marginalized communities, it is very hard for the students to have access to computers or the internet, and combined with other social factors such as poverty, lack of economic opportunities, emigration and gang violence, it has become increasingly difficult to finish their studies and reach their dreams.
Despite all these difficulties, we are so proud to report that three of our high school students and one college student were able to graduate this December. This is an incredible accomplishment for these students who are among the first in their families to finish high school or college. All of our students have gone through many challenges, and it gives me so much hope to see them able to graduate and work for a better future.
Hazel graduated from high school, and her hard work is an example for other young mothers in the community that they can still finish their studies and reach their dreams.
Our other two high school students are able to continue their studies in college. Mercedes’ mother emigrated to the U.S. when she was very young, and Mercedes has been raised by her aunt. It has been very hard for her to grow up without her parents, but she has persevered and worked hard to be able to go to college. She has received a half tuition scholarship to the Jesuit University and plans to study business administration.
William will be studying renewable energy at a technical college. Starting the university online has been very difficult for both of them because they don’t have access to stable internet, but they both are working hard to succeed. They are using the internet in our library as well as helping younger kids with their online homework. They both are showing a serious commitment to bettering their lives as well as helping their community.
Juan is the first student in our program to finish a five-year college degree. He studied teaching and hopes to be employed as a P.E. teacher when classes get back to normal.
I first met Juan in 2009, when he was in the sixth grade. He and his brother were two of the first members of our sports program Jugando por la Paz (Playing for Peace).
We have been accompanying Juan on his journey since that time, and he has been in our scholarship program since 2014. Juan is the fifth of six sons and was raised by his single mother, who worked very hard to be able to support her children. His older brother, who was also part of our programs, emigrated to the U.S. so that he could help Juan go to college.
Juan has also become a coach in our soccer program and loves helping other young people in the community. He has been a leader in our programs and has worked hard to help create a more compassionate and just future.
It has been an amazing blessing to be able to accompany these young people on their journeys to become leaders in their community. I have known all four graduates since they were in elementary school, and it is so amazing to see them beat the odds and receive their diplomas. Their example gives me so much hope in the future of the young people of El Salvador and that they can create a country with hope and opportunities for everyone.
They are using their education to work for the kingdom of God and create a world with dignity for those that grow up in harsh realities. I have found God in the faces of these young people and their dedication to loving their community and neighbors.
Thank you all again for all your support and prayers. Together with the young people, we can help to create a more compassionate and just world.