Of itself, however, charity or emergency aid will not go far in relieving want and famine when these are caused-as they so often are–by the primitive state of a nation’s economy. The only permanent remedy for this is to make use of every possible means of providing these citizens with the scientific, technical and professional training they need, and to put at their disposal the necessary capital for speeding up their economic development with the help of modern methods.
- Mater et Magistra (“Mother and Teacher”), Pope John XXIII, 1961 #163
Since the end of the Civil War in 1992 and long before, the people of Guarjila, El Salvador have lived in perpetual poverty. Since that time, undocumented workers sending remittances from the United States are the largest source of income for our families. These economics have not only left families terminally poor, but have also contributed to the most critical social issue of our day: family disintegration.
Economic opportunity is severely constrained in the Department of Chalatenango where Guarjila is located. Guarjila is a typical example of a Salvadoran rural community where infrastructure is very limited and jobs are few. The situation in the larger cities isn’t much better where there is also a housing shortage, extreme poverty, violent crime and gang activity. For its part, the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Fusades) insists that the creation of formal employment has stagnated at 1.1%. That is, there are few new jobs and (or) opportunities that offer benefits such as pension and social insurance for workers.
This problem of perpetual poverty is further exacerbated by the current focus in the United States on deporting illegal immigrants and ending TPS (Temporary Protected Status), which was extended to undocumented Salvadorans after the 2001 earthquake. Many Salvadorans with years of experience living in the United States are being forced to return home with few prospects for an existence beyond survival.
Here at the Tamarindo Foundation we have invested in our community’s development efforts, focusing on education, health, wellness, personal formation and micro-lending. The presumption has been that education and training will prepare our people for the workforce and contribute to the local community and economy. However, there is a stark difference between our premise and reality.
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After an exhaustive process of internal soul searching coupled with an external review of opportunities and resources, the Tamarindo Foundation proposes these initiatives:
Develop academic and vocational educational opportunities based on a comprehensive understanding of the Salvadoran economy making our youth job ready.
Promote small business development through micro-lending programs and business education with an emphasis on women and mothers.
Develop an English language academy to make Guarjila a bilingual community, as English language proficiency is key to finding good jobs in El Salvador.
Create an “anchor business” in Guarjila that will promote sustained employment and economic activity.
Complete infrastructure development:
- Murphy Family Field (completed 2018)
- Thoman Learning Center
(fully funded/construction 2019)
- Cultural, Sports and Community Field House
- Community Pool
- Retreat House/Community Restaurant
- Health and Wellness Center
Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s own nation.
- Pope Francis
Thoman Learning Center
Inauguration - 02/2020
This vision creates an environment for Salvadorans struggling to survive on remittances from the United States to become wage earners where they live. This will not only create jobs and economic opportunity, but will also address directly the issues of forced migration, youth crime and gang proliferation by creating real alternatives.
These initiatives also lessen the need for deportees to attempt to return the United States by giving them an opportunity to use their experiences and cultural knowledge acquired abroad and succeed in their homeland, a concept we call “blooming in place”.