Country Spotlight: El Salvador–Hope Is Hatching

*6-2015 ES003 Darwin Ramirez (28)

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” That’s why our international development work centers around four pillars: Food & Nutrition, Health & Water, Education, and Livelihoods.

When children are hungry and malnourished, the need is urgent: to fill their bellies and get them the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong. But we know we can’t stop with the Food & Nutrition pillar:

How can that health be sustained?
Through increased access to clean water and sanitation (Health & Water pillar).

How can children escape poverty?
By going to school and learning the skills needed for a successful life (Education pillar).

And how can an entire village improve their circumstances?
By receiving training and support as they learn a marketable trade (Livelihoods pillar).

Darwin is just one child who will benefit from all four of these pillars. Let’s find out how.

Food & Nutrition

Darwin is five years old and lives with his parents in a rural village in the middle of coffee country in El Salvador. His father works as a bricklayer and earns about $100 a month. It’s enough to get by—they can put food on the table—but it’s not the nutrient-rich food a growing boy needs.

Thankfully Darwin has access to a Feed the Children feeding center, where he receives a nutritious lunch each weekday. Darwin loves both the food and the children he’s met: “I feel happy because I have a lot of friends [at the feeding center], and also the food is delicious, like a restaurant!”

Health & Water

We know that nutritious meals go a long way toward keeping children healthy. And Darwin has gained 10% of his body weight since he’s starting receiving meals from the feeding center. But our involvement in Darwin’s community goes beyond food. Feed the Children also provides children five years of age and older with deworming medicine, helping prevent debilitating diseases. We also arrange for medical personnel to visit Darwin’s community on an annual basis. These personnel provide free medical care to the residents.

Education

At age five, Darwin is not old enough to attend school, but his parents are excited for him to go when it’s time. Darwin’s village has a school that serves some 360 students in twelve classrooms. In El Salvador, uniforms are required, but they are provided by the government. Through assistance from donors and corporate partners, Feed the Children can steps in with backpacks and other necessary items so kids have what they need to learn and succeed in school.

Darwin loves animals and dreams of becoming a veterinarian.
Darwin loves animals and dreams of becoming a veterinarian.

Darwin loves animals and would like to become a vet some day. With Feed the Children’s support of him, plus hard work and luck, these dreams can become a reality.

Livelihoods

El Salvador has a 16.2% rate of unemployment. We’re tackling that statistic in many different ways, but in Darwin’s village, that means fish. About a year ago, we helped develop a tilapia hatchery in the community. We work with the mothers who work at the feeding center, providing training and coursework about how to manage the hatchery for their own food as well as a means of generating income. This project has helped Darwin’s family and many others by providing knowledge and new approaches to improve their quality of life.

We aren’t just teaching one person to fish—we’re providing support to an entire community so that fishing can be the backbone of a sustainable economy. Darwin benefits, but so do many others.

It would be easy to give food to Darwin and children like him and then stop there. But we’re not content with easy answers and half steps. We want to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. And we believe that when we all pitch in, hunger has an expiration date. Get to know more about the four pillars here and how you can get involved here.