CAN YOU PRESENT YOURSELF AND THE VISION DU MONDE ASSOCIATION?
Of course, I am Emilie, program manager at Vision du Monde for 3 years. I mainly deal with Latin America and the Middle East.
Vision du Monde is an international solidarity association present in France since 2002. It is part of the World Vision partnership, the first NGO to sponsor children internationally. The association also carries out many other actions relating to education, health, food security and nutrition, the protection of children against neglect and violence …
Improving the well-being of children involves cooperation with local associations, parents, teachers and the police.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE EL SALVADOR TO DEVELOP A CHILD SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM?
Our mission is to develop in countries where children are the most vulnerable. This is the case in El Salvador where 1/3 of the population lives below the poverty line, where many parents are absent and where, among the registered pregnancies, 28% are underage girls.
As in all of our development programs, we work closely with our local teams who know the needs of the community in which we operate. The population therefore accept our intervention.
To date, 900 Salvadoran children are waiting to be sponsored and, since February 2020, 50 sponsors have already started this great adventure.
WHAT DID YOU ACTUALLY DO ON SITE? HOW WILL YOU HELP THE LOCAL POPULATION?
During the 2 weeks spent there, I was able to verify that partnerships with town halls were in place and that each person’s roles were well understood. In addition, I visited schools to see the needs and centers that aim to give children access to culture and recreation. Finally, we have also set up clubs allowing children to express their emotions, to instill in them values.
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU ON YOUR FIELD TRIP?
Despite the families’ reservations to speak freely about the problems of the communities, they were smiling. The families still answered the questions and we feel a real desire to improve the situation of their community. The town halls also have a lot of ideas for changing things. This dynamism and this desire are refreshing. They bring hope, that’s what struck me the most.
DID YOU HAVE TIME TO EXPLORE EL SALVADOR? WHAT DID YOU DISCOVER AND LOVE TO DISCOVER?
As the sponsorship program is based in the Gulf of Fonseca, at Unión, I was able to discover this region where there are so many islands. The climb to the Conchagua volcano offers breathtaking views of the islands and the Pacific Ocean.
I took advantage of this trip to El Salvador to discover the country but it was not enough for my taste. There are a lot of places that I wanted to see that I didn’t have time to explore.
The visit to San Salvador, the capital, was a pleasant surprise. The historic district is very lively, its colorful houses with its columns are charming. Groups of musicians play in the streets. It’s great to stroll around and do like the locals: sit back and enjoy the moment.
Near San Salvador, the ascent of the Cerro Verde volcano offers a beautiful view of other volcanoes and the surrounding forest. I especially enjoyed crossing the Cerro Verde forest. In a tropical atmosphere, I was surrounded by lianas and flowers that you don’t see in France. Everything was colorful, wild, dense.
The Boquerón volcano, on the other hand, is fun to explore since a small crater (called Boqueroncito) has formed in the crater.
I also discovered two archaeological sites, those of San Andrés and Tazumal. Partly cemented, they are still very impressive to discover.
If the opportunity to return to El Salvador presents itself, I will be happy to go. There are still plenty of places I would love to explore, including the famous Flower Route which is punctuated by waterfalls, volcanoes and former colonial towns. The valley of the impossible, a little isolated, also interests me as I really like walking in the forest.
CHILD SPONSORSHIP JUST STARTED IN EL SALVADOR, WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
We will continue to strengthen child sponsorship so that as many children as possible can experience this experience, and can have the support of their sponsor around the world. We know from experience that having a godfather contributes to the good development of the child.