Co-partners of Campesinas
Supporting Rural Women and Youth in Central America

El Salvador: Rural Communities of Ilobasco, Apastepeque and Cojutepeque

Salvadoran members of our most long-standing partner organization, La Nueva Esperanza (New Hope), come from communities surrounding the market town of Ilobasco, El Salvador. Approximately 70 members range in age from 14 to 90. Older members usually have 0-4 years of school, while younger ones have often reached middle school. Members typically come from families whose annual earnings are between $1,000 and $2,000 a year.
A meeting of La Nueva Esperanza

Co-partners provides funding in El Salvador to support its motto, "Learn, Earn, and Lead" through activities such as:

 

Learn:

Annual transportation scholarships for 15 rural youths to continue schooling.

Computer skills classes for 10-12 students.

Summer enrichment programs for children: In 2007 four teenage volunteers from the United States taught arts and crafts, drama skills and English to 6-12 year old children. In 2012 another US volunteer conducted summer enrichment activities for pre-school and elementary children.

 

Earn:

Dressmaking/tailoring classes: Co-partners provides equipment and local trainer salaries for classes in income generation skills. From 1994 to the present, Co-partners has sponsored dressmaking and tailoring classes in Ilobasco. Over 800 girls and women have enrolled in classes and many have been able to set up small businesses, sewing and making alterations. This program is now provided in two additional communities: Apastepeque and Cojutepeque.

 

Vocational training: In 2008, in response to a request from members to help stem youth emigration, Co-partners sponsored a program entitled Youth Excelling, a multistep vocational program (see below) that included vocational counseling, vocational exploration and five-month apprenticeships at local businesses.

 

Lead:

Leadership training: Co-partners volunteers provide training on topics requested by members during their annual visits. In workshops, participants identify community problems and propose solutions that they themselves can implement.

Examples of workshop topics led by Co-partners volunteers are:

 

    • In 2012 in Ilobasco workshops for adults on non-aggressive communication and on how to conduct focus groups; for a group of 40 adolescents, socio-drama based techniques for peer education about critical issues affecting Salvadoran youth -- gangs, alcohol and drug abuse, early pregnancy, family disintegration, relationship violence, poverty.
    • In 2011 in Ilobasco and Apastepeque workshops on gender-based violence for women and youth.
    • In 2010 in Ilobasco and Apastepeque workshops on assertive communication for women and youth.
    • From 2004-present annual consultation in organizational planning and development for women and youth from the board of La Nueva Esperanza in Ilobasco.

Youth Excelling, a Multistep Vocational Program

 

In 2008, at the request of partner organization La Nueva Esperanza, Co-partners sponsored a program to help rural youth ages 15-25 identify options for  meaningful lives in El Salvador, rather than seeing emigration to the US as the only alternative for success.

 

Local leaders recruited interested youth. These leaders and Co-partners volunteers worked together to recruit businesses to accept apprentices for 5-month internships.  Co-partners volunteers who were trained counselors assessed youth interest and helped them select introductory classes such as carpentry, ceramics, metalwork, cosmetology and English to further explore their interests.  After a week of vocational exploration, youth chose internships and participated in an orientation program with their new 'bosses'.

Co-partners funded transportation and lunch for participants.  Local businesses donated time and expertise to train the student apprentices.



(left) Girls learn about word processing on
Co-partners-donated computers.


 

 


(left)  Students learn to design clothes by making their own patterns.