Year Joined MKLM: 2018
Country: El Salvador
City: San Salvador
Ministry: Mission to El Salvador
Ministry Area: Healthcare & Health Promotion
Ministry Goals: To provide food, education, counseling, vocational training and entrepreneurship opportunities to the homeless and victims of sex trafficking.
With an employment rate of 45 percent and a minimum wage of $300 per month, El Salvador continues to experience a dire lack of economic opportunities, which exacerbates migration and creates extreme challenges for Salvadorans trying to support themselves and their families. The lack of economic resources can fuel hopelessness, which, combined with ongoing violence and extortion, as well as generational trauma from the civil war, has led our clients to despair and abuse of drugs and alcohol, furthering the cycle of poverty and their inability to maintain a stable home. Additionally, the incidence of sex trafficking has increased, which also fuels addiction and homelessness.
I am currently working in supportive services and am preparing to provide counseling services at Mission to El Salvador. The organization has a tremendous impact on the community. We offer a structured program of support, in addition to food, including access to showers and clean clothes, bakery and card making microenterprises as well as training in car repair. We provide general counseling and addiction recovery services, as well as offer literacy, computer skills training, scripture study, and job preparation training to help break the cycle of poverty.
Currently 12 women who were victims of trafficking are working in their own microenterprises selling bras donated by the Free the Girls organization. This enables them to create income and security for themselves and their children while they are learning to run a business. They are also receiving ongoing counseling and support services.
I spent a month in Nicaragua the summer before my senior year of high school with a health assistance program called Amigos de las Americas. I lived in a rural village and participated in a project vaccinating children. This experience had a deep impact on me and planted a seed that has been germinating ever since. I often feel that I am led to work with or accompany the poor, and the process that I have walked through that has brought me to Maryknoll has seemed to unfold in a clear and directed way. I moved from being interested in general international aid work to knowing that I wanted to work with a Catholic organization and then recognizing the importance of having a supportive like-minded community. It was so clear Maryknoll was what I was seeking.
The particular ministry at Mission to El Salvador is a good fit for me as there is good work for me to do as well as the opportunity to improve my Spanish language skills and to use my counseling training and experience.