Hope for Jacqueline
By Ana Luz Alvares de Caldarón
Translated by Palmer Corson
When Jacqueline Navarro Landaverde was just four months old her mother enrolled her in the ASAPROSAR Sprouts of Hope Program. Jacqueline suffered from malnutrition, severe tooth decay and painful swollen gums. She was losing weight and was not eating enough as it was too painful. She was fed only soft foods.
Jacqueline lives in Canton Flor Amarilla, El Salvador, in a small brick house with a laminated roof and cement floors. Her family consists of her mother, two aunts, an uncle and her grandmother. They have no running water but when there is electricity working in the community her grandmother can buy large buckets of water for $1. Jacqueline in primarily raised by her grandmother as the other adults in the family all work to maintain a monthly income of $230.
Upon entry in the Sprouts of Hope Program Jacqueline and her family received nutrition counseling, basic sanitation guidance, childhood stimulation, fluoride applications to her mouth and assistance with specialized pediatric dental care. Jacqueline’s grandmother was invited to attend an ASAPROSAR training conference about preparing soy-based meals and learned the benefits of incorporating soy into their diet. The family also has begun to plant and maintain a small vegetable garden, allowing Jacqueline and her family to achieve an improved level of nutrition. Jacqueline’s grandmother says, “I am so thankful to the Sprouts of Hope Program and their teachers for the dedication, respect and love they show in all the activities they perform.”
With regular home visits, educational programs and caring, ASAPROSAR’s Sprouts of Hope Program has been able to positively influence the development of Jacqueline. The results have improved the quality of life of her entire family and provide hope for the future.
Magic and the Children of El Salvador
Using Performance Art to Empower Youth
By Palmer Corson
Gang violence and sexual and physical abuse toward children is an epidemic in El Salvador but there is a group who are magically changing that through performance art. For over 20 years the Salvadoran Association for Rural Health, ASAPROSAR has worked with the children and youth of El Salvador. For the last six years magic has started to happen. As part of ASAPROSAR’s children’s program, Barefoot Angels, magic is used as a therapy and now a social enterprise that will also combat abuse and gang violence. Confidence from performing on stage, respect from crowds and peers, and the avenue for expression make magic an important method for working with troubled youth in El Salvador.
Magicians Without Borders, a non-profit organization, visits El Salvador every three months to perform in the villages and train young magicians in ASAPROSAR's Barefoot Angels program. Two young women in the Barefoot Angels program, working with Magicians Without Borders, recently returned from a trip to Guatemala. The two young women, Maricella (17) and Astrid (15) performed for thousands of children in the Mayan Highlands around Lake Atitlan. In the out of the way village of Valle de Norte, the girls were welcomed as never before seen marvels. Performing before the group that had never before seen a live magic show the girls were brilliant and the children and adults alike responded with out loud laughter and open-mouthed amazement. After the performance, the girls of the village swarmed around Maricella and Astrid. After a little while a young girl about twelve years old appeared carrying two hand woven dresses. She apparently had gone back to her home after the performance. “We would like you to come and live in our village and teach us what you know. Here are dresses you can wear as members of our village.” Maricella and Astrid gracefully explained they were in school in El Salvador and had to go home to their own village, but hopefully they would return again someday. This story illustrates the power of magic and how it can transform and inspire the lives of young people.
On Tuesday, March 8th, five magicians from the ASAPROSAR Barefoot Angels program traveled to Guatemala City to perform at the annual conference of the International Society of Spanish Magicians. Accompanying the five Barefoot Angels is America Hernandez, psychologist with ASAPROSAR, along with two professional magicians working with Magicians Without Borders from the United States, Michael “Six” Muldoon and Devonte.
Devonte is the feature of a new documentary titled “Misdirection”. In the documentary he travels to Tennessee to compete at a magic large competition, something he trained a year for but in the end he lost. Thirty minutes after the loss he met Tom Verner of Magicians Without Borders for the first time and Tom, knowing Devonte’s background with gangs and magic thought of El Salvador and the Barefoot Angels. Tom told Devonte of the work of ASAPROSAR and his travels to El Salvador. After hearing about the work Devonte said to Tom “I thought I was in Tennessee to win $5,000 but I guess I came here to meet you and learn how I can pass this magic on”. Devonte has been to ASAPROSAR five times and continues to mentor and work with the Barefoot Angels’ magicians.
From Student to Teacher
Translated by Palmer Corson
Kevin Oliva Narciso is a 14 year old boy with brown hair, brown eyes, an angelic look, great humility and a kind heart. He lives with his paternal grandmother, two aunts and eight cousins as his parents separated 12 years ago. The conditions in their household are poor, their house is built of adobe and tarps, they have spotty electricity and potable water, and the land is not theirs. Kevin’s family works as venders in the market so at an early age Kevin was incorporated into the sale of various products. His work subjects him to the risks of the area (accidents, drug trade, kidnappings, gang harassment, etc.). Kevin enrolled in formal education during the first grade but had difficulty assimilating and failed his first year in school.
Today Kevin is about to start the seventh grade with hope and confidence. Kevin entered the Barefoot Angels program four years ago and though it has been a struggle Kevin has adapted and been helped by the ASAPROSAR staff and activities. Kevin still works in the market to support his family but only hours that do not affect his obligations to school. At first Kevin’s behavior showed signs of low self esteem, shyness, anxiety, phobias and depression.
Kevin has received group and individual psychotherapy as a member of the Barefoot Angels program. Working with the Barefoot Angel’s psychologist and teachers Kevin has made improvements in conduct on interpersonal relationships such as: adaptation in the group, respect, more self-confidence, a more positive attitude, trying to find a solution to problems, and aspirations and dreams in life. Kevin now expresses a desire to study to be a teacher to help his grandmother and his siblings.
This year, Kevin began to work with some of the Barefoot Angel’s young magicians to learn how to perform his own magic. Performance art, such as magic, is a therapeutic method that helps in a child’s development and generates positive changes in children. For Kevin it has been a rewarding experience to help him express all the changes he has experienced. The Barefoot Angels program has helped Kevin clarify his goals and hopefully given him more desire to succeed and one day be a teacher…
On Holy Ground
Reflection from a Trip to ASAPROSAR
By Karen Solle
I’m on a plane returning from a six day adventure to El Salvador. I went there to learn more about ASAPROSAR and see firsthand the work they do. I’ve been a supporter of ASAPROSAR for a couple of years and did know a little about their programs from things I’d read and heard. I return today knowing I’ve been profoundly touched by my experiences in El Salvador these past six days. I hesitate to put my experiences into words and hesitate even more to put these words on paper because it’s difficult to express the impact this trip has had on me. I don’t want to trivialize or minimize this experience. I also don’t want to trivialize or minimize the amazing work ASAPROSAR is doing in El Salvador to help the Salvadorans improve their lives. Once again I’ve learned that reading about something and experiencing it are two totally different things. I’m in awe of what I have witnessed and experienced in El Salvador.
I felt I was on Holy Ground much of this trip. The employees of ASAPROSAR I met are passionate about their work and their goals. I was honored to meet them and hear about the work they do and also have them show me the work they do. The people in the villages I visited are among the poorest people I’ve met on the planet, also the kindest and most gracious. To personally hear Salvadoran children in the Barefoot Angels program tell me some of the best things about the program are the respect they receive from their teachers and how they are treated as equals was a Holy Ground moment. To visit a home in a rural village where a Micro-Credit meeting was being held so women could discuss their businesses and turn in their pennies, nickels, dimes and dollars to pay back their loans, to hear them tell their stories of how these $100.00 plus loans were changing their lives and empowering them….more Holy Ground moments. To visit women who’ve received goats and chickens from ASAPROSAR’s Minor Species program and see how these women respect and love their animals because of how their animals have improved their lives…Holy Ground moments again.
And then there is Julio, our driver while we were in El Salvador, also an ASAPROSAR employee. As a North American, I saw many things in El Salvador I’d never seen before. Driving on the roads was something I definitely wouldn’t want to do. I have much gratitude to Julio for keeping us safe and explaining many of the things we saw and didn’t understand. One day we were driving on a major highway. The road was winding and hilly. A go-kart looking contraption carrying a person and firewood was coming down a hill in the opposite lane. My first question to Julio was “Did it have a motor?” Answer “No.” My second question was “Did it have brakes?” Answer “No.” My third question was “How does it stop?” Answer “The driver drags a stick on the ground through a hole in the floor of the kart which slows up the kart and then he plants the stick in a pothole to stop the kart. My fourth question was “How does the kart go uphill?” Answer “The driver pulls the kart uphill.”
I’m so thankful to have had this experience in El Salvador and I’m thankful to ASAPROSAR for all the good they do on our planet.