Best Evidence That COAR Is Respected: Growing Salvadoran Collaboration
Given the long history of distrust & struggle in El Salvador, the historic lack of transparency, the limited income tax system and frankly the war – El Salvador does not have a very rich tradition of domestic charitable cash giving. The country simply never developed a habit of major and widespread (cash) philanthropy. People simply doubted that those in need would actually receive the benefits of the money being donated.
But, el Salvador does have a rich and growing tradition of donating one’s time, services, talent or goods. Years ago, it was hard to convince a local paint store to donate a can of paint. But, after 8 years of intentional outreach and donor development, countless Salvadoran parishes, community groups, businesses and even families have come to know and love COAR.
Twice a month, groups from local parishes come to COAR on Sundays with organized games & activities. Often, being religious groups, the activities have an ethical or moral component. After the games, the children and their guests sit down for a nice snack – also provided by the visitors. Week after week, month after month, year after year, these same parishes and groups return because they trust COAR and they believe in the mission.
In 2018, our educational collaborations have grown incredibly. Several years ago, a local educational foundation approached COAR with the opportunity of providing free internships to a handful of high school students each year. This highly competitive program placed these children in a formal internship at the Hotel Intercontinental. Over the course of 2 years, the kids would learn first-hand all of the major components of the hotel: front desk, catering, housekeeping and maintenance. They would work hand in hand with the employees gaining real life job training. Upon high school graduation, if they had completed the program successfully, they would be considered for any job opening before the opening was published.
After many years of success, the family that endows this program has expanded the training sites to include a construction company and a car dealership. The Foundation’s goal is to educate and support talented and motivated at-risk children. The COAR children have taken these opportunities seriously and the program has grown in response.
Today, the children at COAR have been welcomed by an array of local businesses and organizations. One weekend, a handful of children were taken into the local radio station and shown how to operate the equipment and talk on the radio. Another week, the kids are given a free Tai Chi and Karate lesson. A local organization is providing free basic computer software training and another donated free labor do rewire the entire electrical system in our Administration Building after a short-circuit and small fire.
On any given weekend, there is a chance that a local organization, parish or business will drop off several boxes of oil, beans, corn flower, or sugar. There may not be a tradition of cash philanthropy but thanks to the hard work and dedication of the COAR staff, community groups, businesses and parishes have come to see COAR as a beacon of hope for these at-risk children. COAR is not just providing shelter, but, it is working to heal their emotional wounds, educate their minds and inspire their hearts and souls. For our donors in the United States who may never visit El Salvador, knowing that religious, civic and business leaders have come to COAR and have begun to create collaborative programs is a tremendous seal of approval.