If you were to visit El Salvador, you would find a country full of lush vegetation, stunning beaches, and a dynamic, vibrant, and welcoming culture.  However, El Salvador faces considerable challenges when it comes to caring for vulnerable children amidst an environment riddled with gang violence and influence. A lack of relationship-centered, high-quality care for the most vulnerable children continues to be a major challenge.

This month, Whole Child International welcomed our Board of Directors and key donors to see our work in San Salvador. Our trip focused on providing context about the country and explaining the plight of children growing up in residential centers and those who spend their days in early childhood care centers. As the Board of Directors and donors visited each site, they received a small glimpse into what life is like for children growing up in El Salvador without loving families to surround them.

Prior to visiting the centers, our donors and board members were reminded of typical practices that unknowingly contribute to stifling childhood development. Care centers in El Salvador, like many other countries, emphasize efficiency and cleanliness to maintain order, rather than prioritizing emotional needs. This approach detracts from establishing a more family-like, relationship-centered setting that occurs when children of different ages are grouped together with supervision from a consistent and dedicated caregiver. Visiting several different childcare centers allowed our board and donors to understand these problems and see the benefit of Whole Child’s work firsthand.

In addition to site visits, this trip presented many opportunities to continue building relationships with key government partners, USAID officials, ISNA, and the US Ambassador to El Salvador, Jean Manes. Our visitors also had the chance to visit the beautiful area of Suchitoto, a historical town with stunning mountain views, and enjoyed the lovely hospitality at Hotel Los Almendros de San Lorenzo.

We are so grateful to have such wonderful board members and donors who actively engage with our work! Special “Thank You” to each of them for participating in this experience and offering their input and expertise on how we can continue to strengthen our approach within El Salvador.

Pictured: Five of our board members enjoy El Salvador’s natural beauty; a lunch with key donors; and a stunning view of Suchitoto.