We started the Brave Education Program in a remote village where the children usually rop out of school between 4th and 6th grades. The reasons are three-fold.
One: Financial. The average income in the campo is 5 dollars a day, for those who have work. Enough said.
Two: Violence. The reason we chose the name, Brave, is for the children of El Salvador who live in the campo, and desire to go to school, it requires great bravery and tenacity. Why? Because just stepping foot outside their own village, into another village, puts their very lives at risk from the gangs. Everything in El Salvador is about territory. You must stay in your own territory, or risk extortion, threats and possibly death. When they choose to stay in school, they do so accepting the risks involved.
Three: Lack of motivation. The fact that graduation from high school doesn’t seem to offer them any benefits, makes them think, "Why even try?" They decide to stay home and either help the family farm the land, or look for work elsewhere. The girls usually become pregnant and move in with their boyfriend, and the cycle begins. The problem is, unless you have a high school diploma in El Salvador, you are not even allowed to be hired to sweep the streets. If one of them was tenacious enough to graduate from high school, what hope do they have of continuing on to higher education? None. It is completely out of their reach. Thus, no motivation. Our desire is to come alongside these children with motivation, encouragement and opportunity. We want to teach them that, with God, all things are possible.
Our youth project director, Fatima, meets with the young people and their parents on a regular basis to assess their personal situations, and see how we can help motivate them get over the barriers that stop them from pursuing their dreams. Once or twice a month, the children who are part of the project, meet together with a goal of building relationships, teaching team-work, tutoring, doing home-work, having a devotional and prayer time and encouraging one another to keep on! Upon graduation, we hope to offer scholarships for university studies, or job skills training in vocation centers. Ultimately, our desire is to see young people reached for Christ. So, a great focus is placed on keeping the good news of the gospel front and center!