Combating child abuse in El Salvador: project update
Each Christmas Mercanta sponsors a charitable project in one of the coffee-producing origins we work with. This year we decided to support FUNPRES, a not-for-profit organisation that runs support and prevention programmes for victims of child abuse in El Salvador. We have just received a report back on the project’s progress…
FUNPRES (short for ‘Fundación Pro-Educación Especial’, or ‘Foundation for Special Educational Needs’) was founded in 1989 to offer support and opportunities to children who are from vulnerable backgrounds and/or have special educational needs. We found out about its work through our longterm partners and star growers, the Pacas family, who farm El Retiro, La Guachoca, El Talapo and various other fincas around the Santa Ana volcano. The Pacas are particularly involved with a FUNPRES program to combat child abuse, which is operating in two schools close to their farms - so we decided to get involved too.
The programme was launched this February at two primary schools in the Santa Ana area - Buenos Aires, with 140 students and 4 teachers, and Manuel Parada Salgado, with 350 students and 12 teachers. A preventive psychologist has been visiting both schools two to three times a week, holding a range of workshops with students - topics include, ‘Creative Responses to Conflict’, ‘Social Skills’, ‘Getting to Know Myself’, ‘Relationships with Family and Friends’ and ‘My Identity’. Similarly, she has been running sessions with teachers on subjects such as stress management, classroom management and basic leadership skills.
A clinical psychiatrist has also been visiting both schools once a week, identifying problems and working one on one with students and their parents. A case of abuse of pupils by a teacher has since been uncovered in one of the schools - FUNPRES acted swiftly to report the abuse to the authorities, and is offering support and guidance to the victims, their peers, the school’s staff and the pupils’ parents. As Marcela Pacas, who is working closely with FUNPRES, told me, “It is a very sad situation, but the positive thing is that the abuse has been reported, the victims are receiving support and the perpetrator will now face the consequences of his actions.”
This is a hugely worthwhile project and we are delighted to have been able to contribute in some way. Thank you to Marcela, the rest of the Pacas family and all at FUNPRES for their amazing work. We’ll post up more updates in due course…
Check out the FUNPRES website here: www.funpres.org.sv