Emérita Cruz lives in El Tamarindo, a quiet coastal community in El Salvador. The nearest large town is 10km away. The area doesn’t have very many schools, and access to health care is difficult because the nearest health centers are outside the community. Emérita’s house is made of brick, with a tin roof and earthen floor. Potable water is delivered twice per week, so she collects rainwater in barrels to supplement cooking and washing needs.

The coastal Salvadoran climate is hot and humid, and when the rains come, everything turns to mud. The community does not have electric streetlights, public transportation, or a sewage system. Pit latrines are common. El Tamarindo’s population is spread out, and Emérita’s nearest neighbors are 5 to 15 minutes away.

When Emérita first moved to El Tamarindo, she didn’t know anybody. None of the community mothers were organized. She told us, “I had no friends to share with and it was harder to get healthy food for the children in our community." Children often fell sick, and they did not always recover. The community needed new skills and knowledge, but more importantly, they needed people willing to act as agents of change.

Emérita and other mothers received training from Feed the Children which has greatly changed their quality of life. They studied leadership, safe food handling practices, the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, physical fitness, clean water practices, and more. She tells us that this training has given her the motivation to become a community leader, and to pass on the knowledge she’s gained.

Emérita’s day starts with her two children, who are 9 and 15 years old. They eat breakfast together as a family. Emérita takes care of the chickens and tidies the house to prepare for the day’s activity. As the leader of the El Tamarindo Feeding Center, she organizes the local cooking group. Community mothers come to her house to prepare a meal for all of the children who participate in the community feeding program. After everyone eats lunch together, the children go to school.

Emérita enjoys making El Tamarindo a better home for her children, and passing on her skills.

In her words, “Thanks to FEED we can serve food to the children of our community and at the same time I feel happy of sharing experiences with my neighbors and friends.”