The Making of Summer School in Tasajera

One and a half years ago the Tasajera Summer School Project had its beginning; it started with an idea. Now that we find ourselves executing the project, I can only think of the phrase “making dreams come true.”

The reality of this dream is not only for us (the project directors), but it’s equally a dream come true to the 45 students who are currently learning Computers and English through this project. As you can see in the video update  below, the students are learning a lot already and have the desire to learn much more.

At the moment, only Suzy Marselis and I (Daniel) are teaching classes in Tasajera, but very soon the Spanish volunteers form the University of Alcala de Henares are arriving to lead Reading and Writing, Nursing, and Organic Gardening classes.

Cooperacion Diagrama

If asked how did we make this project happen, I would say there is no definite recipe for it. I can surely say, however, that everything depends on good networking and being open to collaborate with others.

Key actors in the organization of this event are: Pastor Aristides Arce, a community leader who facilitates our communication with the local school; Glenda Olmedo, one of the local school teachers who represents the school for our project; Suzanne Marselis, a Dutch PhD student that wrote the project proposal and raised funds; Edgar Hita, a Spanish director of cooperation in Central America from the UAH in Spain who facilitates Spanish volunteers to Tasajera Island.

In addition, there are countless people who helped this project start, from those who provided research to those who contributed financially, and even those who gave much needed moral support or wise advice. We are eternally grateful to all, but the people in Tasajera Island are truly grateful!

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Arriving to Tasajera

Rain had been pouring in El Salvador for 2 days already by the time me, Carlos Escalante, and volunteers from His Children Foundation, were on the road to Tasajera last Saturday Oct. 17. It had been one year and two months since I last saw Carlos, and he picked me up outside the house I was staying in San Salvador at 5:52am on that day.

With grey cloudy skies and raindrops in my face I made my initial approach to the island; I was walking into my new workplace.

Volunteers of His Children Foundation and the local women’s group Sea Artisans were scheduled to distribute to the community donations from Mansfield University; which included clothing, shoes, and toys. This activity was performed successfully and the donations were given to 200+ families.

Surrounding the donations event, I made my goal to contact my most trusted ally in the community: Pastor Aristides Arce. The report from him was not as favorable as I expected. We sat under the palm hut behind his church, and I noticed he was hesitant to open up directly to me, waiting for me to express my intentions upfront.

After a few minutes, we quickly regain the trust we were used to. He explained some community members were not satisfy with the way I have been helping the community, as they thought I was channeling help for certain groups and not to others. I explained to Pastor that I was aware of my lack of communication with the community, and that this time I intent to communicate well with the community leaders about EMANA and its vision with Tasajera regarding education. After a 1:45 hour long conversation and a hot chocolate and pastry, I was pleased with having his blessing.

Later than evening, I met with Luis Recio, a Spanish student who is living in Tasajera since July and is working in there with a regional NGO called CORDES. Luis is one of the many Alcala University students that volunteer every year in this region, and he is an Environmental Scientist. This was no surprise, as we knew we would meet up since early June when I was visiting Edgar Hita, director of Central America Cooperation program, while in Madrid.

Our conversation with Luis was great, we agreed on working together in developing a waste management plan for Tasajera and carry out organic farming workshops together. Luis also agreed to provide support from his side to EMANA’s project to develop a Summer School Program and improve education in Tasajera. All in all, we are going to make great things together.

Luis Rodriguez, a current EMANA member, was also in Tasajera and we agreed to work together in the development of the Steering Committee and ADESCO.

Right before leaving Tasajera on Sunday, I met with Walter Pena, president of the Local Association for Development (ADESCO) to discuss the development of a Steering Committee with community members, school teachers, and other stakeholders to lead and oversee the School Program and other sustainable development goals.

I left Tasajera Island with a clear vision of the challenges and opportunities ahead of me, and after arranging all the necessary things, I will return to Tasajera to start the implementation process at the end of this week. stay tuned.

Thanks for your attention.