Oscar* is 6 years old – a smiling, happy child who loves to play football. With the help of NPH’s ‘Centro de Bienestar Infantil’ (Child Well-being Centre) or CBI, he receives free education, nutritious meals and childcare so that his parents are able to work to support the family. NPH El Salvador sponsors 261 children in the local communities so they can receive a formal education from kindergarten to ninth grade while their parents work to provide for them.
Helping parents with childcare so they can work
In El Salvador, poverty is high and the literacy rate is low, with 18% of the general population unable to read or write. Families cannot afford to send their children to school and older children must work to provide family income. The majority of Salvadoran children under 6 have no access to a preschool education at all.
Oscar is the youngest of three brothers – his parents don’t have formal jobs but sell fast food and Mexican ‘tortas’ (sandwiches) in a cart on the street to earn enough to rent their home and feed their children.
School setting offered free from infancy to high school
In 2017, two free programmes were started to support the needs of the local communities – the daycare centre ‘CBI’ and ‘Becas Comunitarias Padre Wasson’ (Father Wasson Community Scholarships), both of which provide quality education to local children, covering tuition, books, uniform and school supplies.
Oscar’s mother, Ana, recalls: “When they started a programme for the kids from the outside communities, it has benefited us a lot. Before having the opportunity to send my boys to NPH, I remember I was worried about their education. But thank God, we have now this opportunity that helps them with education but also with food and medical care.”
She added: “The education that children receive is great. I have noticed that my boys have learned a lot.”
Community children receive nutritious meals
As part of the programme, they receive two healthy meals and two snacks per day, helping with their physical development as they grow from infants to children, despite the local poverty rate being high and many local children suffering from malnutrition. Chefs at NPH develop menus based on a balanced diet, including chicken, meat, rice, vegetables and fruits. Oscar’s favourite dish is fried chicken with rice. The children also receive regular medical check-ups.
Safe place for children to learn and grow
Oscar has attended the programme since he was 2 years old and goes every day from 7am to 3pm. He says: “Hi, I like to come to NPH. I like going to school. I like to play with my friends and I like to eat delicious food.”
Oscar enjoys colouring and drawing but his favourite activity is playing football with his friends. He is preparing to join Grade 1 next year and his teacher, Diana, says that he is a polite child and very helpful.
“Recently,” she explains, “I experienced a situation where Oscar was very helpful for me. We were getting ready for an activity that involved a lot of previous preparation. His classmates were taking a rest after lunch, but Oscar did not want to rest, he wanted to help me and he insisted on doing so. I felt really moved by the situation and gave him the opportunity to help me.”
“My wish for the future,” she adds, “is that my students, especially Oscar, have the opportunity to continue receiving the support at NPH.”
Impact of NPH programmes
Oscar’s mother Ana can’t praise the programme enough: “The impact that NPH has on my children is great because they are able to learn while I am able to work. It is a great benefit and the education they provide is excellent.” Diana, his teacher, agrees: “Oscar is developing quite well. We have been able to see the growth that he has had; how he has evolved. He is learning a lot. He knows many skills but he needs to continue receiving the support that NPH provides so he is able to develop completely and learn more.”
Bright futures start young
Oscar and his brothers all attend the El Salvador NPH programme and his mother is very appreciative: “My hopes and dreams for the future are that Oscar is able to continue studying and become a professional.” Oscar says: “When I grow up, I want to be a police officer, a chef and a football player!”
Through this programme, these boys and many other children – supported by NPH – receive free quality education, healthy nutritious meals and regular medical check-ups, as well as free childcare so their families in the community can work to provide a better future for them.
*Privacy note: Children’s names, marked with an asterisk, have been changed to protect their privacy.