"A nonprofit endeavor, the Youth Movement Association was born in 1994 to promote the integral development of youth in a municipality of El Salvador. By offering opportunities for...
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El Salvador Youth Movement Association
"A nonprofit endeavor, the Youth Movement Association was born in 1994 to promote the integral development of youth in a municipality of El Salvador. By offering opportunities for social and productive development, we've seen results thanks to the different organisms cooperating to support the project.
"Our goal is to prevent youth violence. We implement productive programs and projects with the participation of youth at risk who might otherwise be excluded from society. Our team is effective, focused on equality of gender."
Edgar Peña is a ceramic artisan who works on a potter's wheel. He tells us his childhood was quite difficult, as he grew up in extreme poverty.
"I was the second child in a family of five, and my father was murdered with a machete when I was only five years old. I don't have many memories of him, only what I've been told. They tell me that he worked making bricks and farming. When he died, my mother had to take care of us. She worked as a maid and crafted Christmas ornaments in clay to make money and feed us all.
"I never had the opportunity to go to school because we didn't have enough money. So when I was 10 years old, I had to start earning a living as best as I could. My first job was shining shoes. By the time I was 20, I'd had several jobs, from working in an auto shop to helping lay cement blocks. My life was headed toward total decadence and I got involved in the world of drugs and gangs.
"My life in ceramics began at age 25 when I saw how some ceramists from Honduras worked. This new path wasn't easy because I didn't have anyone to teach me. It took me three years to be able to make my first piece without help and it took many hours to learn to use the wheel and to transform clay into a finished work that shoppers liked. But I was able to get ahead economically and earned money I never imagined I would ever receive. When I started, I was paid one colon for an entire day's work.
"I didn't realize this decision would transform my entire life. When I came to the Association to ask for a job, the director told me that he would hire me if I'd study and learn to read, count – stuff I didn't know how to do. By then, I was 30 years old and felt so ashamed to be in the first grade at school. The director of the Association encouraged me and, with great effort, I finished first and second grades in six months. This has been one of the greatest challenges in my life but, when I received the certificate saying I could now read and write, it was one of my happiest moments.
"Today my dream is to open my own workshop and turn it into a small school to teach young people everything I have learned. I hope to be a man who leaves a mark in this world, especially in the minds of lots of people."
The Association's strategy is based upon three fundamental concepts. "We contribute to prevent youth violence through their organization and in activities that favor peaceful coexistence with gender equity. We promote decision-making in youth projects in their communities. We generate skills and techniques that allow an integral formation, qualifying young people for successful participation in the job market and supporting work initiatives."