St. Martin de Porres / Fundación SASEL

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

San Martin De Porres (Zaragoza, EL SALVADOR) is a school in the El Zaite community of Zaragoza. It includes a primary and secondary school for children, as well as academic, cooking, and hotel training courses for adults. Youth who attend San Martin De Porres often come from low-income families and therefore cannot afford to attend other primary schools in the community. Many of the youth of El Zaite are children of gang members in the neighborhood, an escalating social problem in El Zaite since the 1980s. Because the children come from families who are often at war with one another, the teachers and staff of San Martin De Porres are committed to teaching peace and reconciliation along with the standard curriculum. The structure of education helps to provide a sense of belonging and a routine that will keep children from falling into the pitfalls of gang life. The school provides many great opportunities for its students, including access to a computer lab with Internet capabilities and connection to a world outside their neighborhoods, medical care for the entire family, psychotherapy for those suffering from the traumas of war, ecological awareness, and a committed staff dedicated to seeing the youth succeed.