Improve Education and Access to the Labor Market of Low-income Youth in San Salvador, El Salvador
Project location: EL SALVADOR, San Salvador
Project start date: October 2010 - Project end date: October 2011
Project number: 2010-26
Beneficiary: American Initiatives for Social Development Foundation, inc.
Timeline of the present activity report:
From March 2011 to October 2011
This project's objective of educating and forming the character of 19 young girls in El Salvador has exceeded expectations. After the selection process at the beginning of the project in 2010, 11 young girls were chosen from the poor rural areas outside of San Salvador, El Salvador, to attend the school as 1st year students.
During this school year the young women, have completed their courses in food and beverage preparation, dining service, laundry and dry cleaning, and maintenance and housekeeping. This range of skills makes the women qualified for a broad range of employment opportunities.
The young women's improvement in the areas of self-confidence, personal care and social skills are also very noticeable. Each year at the school they build their human and professional development, creating a solid foundation their families could not or did not know how to provide.
The month of November 2011 marks the end of the year for the third-year graduating class of young women. With the technical expertise the women have acquired at Montemira, along with the contacts and support provided by the staff at Montemira, the young women are well-placed to find work and support their families, as well as gain the confidence that decent and satisfying work brings along with it. Already, two young women from the graduating have been offered jobs, one with El Rosario Bakery and another with the Hilton Hotel Princes.
About the 20 % of this year's graduates are continuing their college studies at the University. About 50% will be working in different hospitality businesses, 15% will continue their studies to become instructors and 15% are deciding whether to work and/or continue with their University studies. This year more girls are postponing college studies due to financial difficulties and the need to contribute to the family income but the door is now open for them and their job prospects are much higher compared to what it was three years ago. The Montemira School has once again proven the success of its mentoring program, in which new students are paired with older students, who provide them with personal support and friendship. These girls coming from underprivileged backgrounds have found a welcoming environment at Montemira, despite the fact that living away from home is entirely new to them. With mentors, the girls have someone who understands their situation perfectly and can reassure them as well as listen to their questions.
The approach of Montemira is to edify the whole person. Not only are these young women given technical skills that enable them to find work, provide them with lodging, uniforms, nutritious meals, articles for personal hygiene, and school supplies, but they are also given the formation in character-building. Both by example and instruction, the Montemira staff show the young women their self-worth, and the importance of being exemplary women in their society. Thus, not only do the students grow in terms of skills, but also in terms of maturity and emotional strength. After completing three years of study at Montemira, the students receive a Baccalaureate degree approved by the Ministry of Education in El Salvador. This degree enables the young women to continue their studies in a university if they wish. This coming January, another 13 young women are expected to be selected for the incoming class at Montemira, followed by an additional 13 the following year. In total, 37 women will thus benefit from this project, as well as their families, communities, and any families they will have in the future. Letters of gratitude from five families of the young women given scholarships were received in gratitude for this project. Their appreciation can be summarized in the closing line of one of the letters: Montemira es simbolo de progreso espiritual y aprendizaje ("Montemira is a symbol of spiritual progress and learning").