Today, we kick off the 5th annual Viva Fund Campaign. Please join us in celebrating the vibrant young leaders, taking control of their lives and investing in the future of their communities. Over the next six weeks, we will be sharing stories from the Youth Program and raising money to support their continued efforts. Donate today to ensure these efforts thrive.
Youth in rural El Salvador face a variety of challenges. These include limited access to quality education, gang violence, and few economic opportunities. For many, immigration seems like the only opportunity. Faced with this reality, our partners at the Mangrove Association have created a strong youth program, which fosters youth leadership to build tomorrow’s leaders, while achieving tangible results today. Focusing in areas of community organizing, food sovereignty, and entrepreneurship, the Mangrove Association works together with youth leaders to create opportunity for engagement, employment, and leadership. Over the last five years, the Viva Fund has grown from a scholarship fund, to supporting a holistic program that helps youth fully engage their communities. Please read below to learn more and donate today to support youth leadership.
Leadership Development & Local Youth Groups: Mirroring the local decentralized and democratic structure of organizing, youth in the Lower Lempa region of El Salvador have formed “Local Youth Groups.” With a total of five groups incorporating about 70 young adults, each group gathers young women and men from surrounding communities to discuss issues affecting them and plan concrete actions to address these issues. Youth gain leadership experience, implement projects that are a priority to them, and begin incorporating into the larger social fabric of the region.
Food Sovereignty: Partnering with local schools, young leaders have created five school gardens, to promote food sovereignty and eliminate junk food from the school cafeterias. Not only do the youth help with the implementation of the gardens, but also lead workshops for the children at the school about nutrition and food sovereignty. Through coordination with the local youth group of San Hilario and engineers from the “Sooners Without Borders” at the University of Oklahoma, a solar irrigation system has been installed at the pilot garden, to ensure the production of nutritious food continues during the dry season.
Entrepreneurship: In order to foster the creation of local economic opportunities, the Youth Program now facilitates workshops focused on organizational leadership, entrepreneurship, and vocational training. In addition, four former Viva Fund scholarship recipients have finished their formal training in aquaculture and returned to the Lower Lempa. Together, they’ve formed an aquaculture cooperative in their communities, creating economic opportunities and fostering a local, sustainable food source for community members.
Radio: Mangrove Radio continues to be an important source of communication throughout the Lower Lempa and coastal areas. Reaching over 200 communities, it serves as a medium for environmental education, outreach for community events, importance public health announcements, and of course as an early warning system in the case of flooding. Three youth leaders coordinate and create all of the programming.
Together, we can support the next generation of leaders in El Salvador. ¡Que vivan los jóvenes!