FUNDAHMER aids 47 communities in El Salvador that are poorly assisted by the government and other organizations due to lack of infrastructure. FUNDAHMER works to improve living conditions by providing access to clean water and sanitation, housing and educational opportunities, and promoting conservation and civic participation. In addition, trains poor communities who are most vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters in emergency preparedness and risk analysis, which help to reduce the impact of these disasters.
In its fourth year of collaboration with FUNDAHMER, ArtCorps is working to formally and sustainably weave art into FUNDAHMER’s programs in health education, women’s rights, sustainable livelihoods and conservation.
Between 1980 and 1992, El Salvador was ravaged by a civil war so devastating that almost 20 years later the nation and its people are still recovering from its effects. Although its economy has steadily improved, El Salvador remains among the 10 poorest countries in Latin America. 37% of its population lives in rural communities where positive change in income, health and education are hampered by natural disasters, lack of government resources and poor management practices.
- Using revenues from the sale of their products, a women’s cooperative has helped to support a local boy’s education by offsetting some of his costs associated with food and transportation to and from school
- Strengthening FUNDAHMER’s educational, women’s rights, environmental and civic action initiatives by increasing leadership, communication and group facilitation skills and knowledge-sharing.
- Transferring Art for Social Action skills to FUNDAHMER staff so they can better identify and implement methods to improve organizational efficacy
- Beautifying communities and neighboring rivers while raising awareness about environment
2011: Jennifer Sklar Gilbert is a poet from the US who has been supporting FUNDAHMER’s international outreach and education efforts for the past year. Jenny is familiar with ArtCorps' work with FUNDAHMER from being a guest artist in Laura Smith's art and creativity workshops for staff. Jenny will focus her work on completing the transfer of Art for Social Action skills to FUNDAHMER staff while also introducing literary arts as a artistic tool.
2008-2010: Laura Smith, a visual arts teacher from the US began working with women and youth in the rural Padre Mauricio Merino community located in the Sacacoyo region of La Libertad. During her third year with ArtCorps and FUNDAHMER, Laura was most focused on inspiring a long-term commitment to creative exploration and the use of art as a tool for development and education within FUNDAHMER and the community at large.
- Community Workshops: Laura has conducted an array of workshops that cater to various groups within the community. To date, participants have addressed a wide range of topics such as local values, historical memory, leadership, self-expression and the environment through easily replicable art activities such as mural making, drawing, silk screening, puppet-making and mosaics.
- Keeping the Ticuma River Clean: In an effort to educate people about the effects of pollution, Laura and 16 students led initiatives to collect trash and paint two murals with environmental messages. Since this endeavor, the community has kept the riverside noticeably cleaner.
- Roque Dalton: In collaboration with The Experimental Center for Popular Education (CEPAE) of the Mangle Association of Bajo Lempa, 15 young leaders from 10 communities are using artistic tools, popular education and cultural projects to promote social transformation and community participation. Laura, with her FUNDAHMER counterpart Miguel Guzmán, helps organize and facilitate the workshops.
- Early Childhood Nutrition: Laura supported FUNDAHMER’s nutrition program in Agua Escondida by using puppets to engage and teach kindergarteners about eating healthy foods.
- Micro-Enterprise and Women’s Entrepreneurship: Laura worked with a local women’s cooperative to help them develop micro-enterprises. In the past, she taught weaving techniques and creative exploration skills, which led to the production of greeting cards and baskets made from natural materials. The proceeds from the sale of these products go toward a fund that helps community members in need. This year Laura worked with women in Sacacoyo to strengthen the women’s committee, which produces artisanal work.
- Investigation of Youth Issues in Sacacoyo: This year FUNDAHMER staff, community leaders and Laura will initiate a project that will help tackle issues such as drug and alcohol use, gang violence, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Laura will work with local youth to artistically investigate causes, risks, consequences and solutions to these problems, providing them with the skills to use art in participatory problem solving. She will train local leaders to use creative facilitation tools so that they can continue to facilitate this process.
- Staff Development and Skills Transfer: Laura leads monthly workshops for 11 FUNDAHMER staff members on how to integrate art into programs and how to use art as a resource for improving team innovation and effectiveness. One of the primary results, thus far, is that members of FUNDAHMER employ the ArtCorps methodology to improve the internal operations of their organization. Overall, the transfer of skills will enable them to continue using Art for Social Action as a communication and learning tool both within their organization and in the field.
- Certificate Program: During 2008, Laura helped develop a pilot certificate program where youth from nine communities learned advanced facilitation and teaching techniques that they brought back to their respective communities. In its third year, this program is now taught by a local artist with support from Laura.
2007: Cristina Leon Lara, a visual and performing artist from Colombia specializing in arts education and arts therapy, contributed to FUNDAHMER’s Woman to Woman project by using artistic tools that empowered women to address gender equality issues. Cristina also utilized theater, puppetry, painting and textile techniques to build inter-community trust, promote sustainable agriculture practices and decrease gang violence. Before leaving El Salvador, Cristina began training FUNDAHMER staff in creative techniques to enhance their work.
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