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Personal Success Stories From El Salvador

Vocational Training

bulletComputer School

this is a photograph of Wendy Lisette Mejia de CarpioWendy Lisette Mejia de Carpio
Wendy Lisette Mejia de Carpio is 24 years old and recently graduated from The Cojutepeque Computer School. Wendy is a mother of two and can now use her computer skills to help them with their homework.

She is confident that she’ll have a much easier time finding a job now because almost all employers are looking for people with computer skills.

Wendy says she likes the School very much because it’s the only school that gives people from low economic backgrounds opportunities to learn by providing classes for free.
Additionally, students are treated well at the school because the focus is on teaching a skill; not about your background.

She says, “This school does not discriminate: Money, religion or politics do not play a role.”

this is a photograph of Iris Lisseth DominguezIris Lisseth Dominguez
Iris Lisseth Dominguez is a 25 year old high school student. Iris came to the Cojutepeque Computer School because her school did not offer computer classes.

Before coming to the computer school, Iris had to go to local cyber cafes that charged her high fees to find information for school projects. Now, she can access a computer and do research herself. Iris says, “I’m no longer dependent on others; I’m an independent woman now!”

this is a photograph of Virginia Jasmin MartinezVirginia Jasmin Martinez
Virginia Jasmin Martinez is 14-years-old and lives with her mother and grandmother.

In her high school, students have to pay extra for computer classes. Even if a student is able to pay for the classes, they only get 1-2 hours per-week of instruction, and the quality of the classes is sub-standard.

Virginia is excited to have the opportunity to learn at the Cojutepeque Computer School, and is confident it will improve her job prospects once she graduates.

Many students are eager to learn basic computer skills because employers are willing to offer full-time jobs and pay increases to those who have learned those skills.

bulletBaking And Culinary Schools

this is a photograph of Oscar Armando EnriquezOscar Armando Enriquez
Oscar Armando Enriquez comes from a single-parent home and is only 14 years old.

Oscar has always had a strong desire to help his mother, who works as a street vendor selling vegetables 12-hours daily in order to provide for her and her son. Hoping to supplement his mother’s income, Oscar decided to enroll in cooking classes at the Vocational Training School in San Salvador.

His goal has been to work as a chef to help his mother pay for the house and living expenses. At only 14 years-of-age, Oscar has already obtained his diploma in cooking and has also enrolled in computer classes. He practices his cooking skills and supplements his family’s income by selling prepared dishes in his neighborhood on the weekends. Oscar hopes to obtain his high-school diploma and continue onto culinary school in order to become a chef and start his own business.

this is a photograph of Magdalena FloresJulio and Magdalena Flores
Magdalena de Flores and her husband, Julio Antonio Flores, are a very young couple who have two children.

Before they enrolled in the vocational classes at the Vocational Training School in San Salvador, they were both unemployed and had no income. Since they both dropped out of high school and had no marketable skills, it was very difficult for them to find jobs.

Magdalena was the first to attend the cooking classes at the school. At times, she found it difficult since occasionally she had to bring her newborn baby to school while taking classes. After she got her diploma, Magdalena found a job in a local bakery, called “ Panadería San Martín,” that specializes in making bread and cakes.

Julio, Magdalena’s husband, was next to enroll in an architect class for “Metallic Structure.” Julio graduated as one of the top students in his class, and now works for an independent architect who has given him the opportunity to work in metallic structure. Both Julio and Magdalena are very thankful to all those who made it possible for them to learn skills that ultimately helped them find jobs and provide for their family.

Now that both of them are working, Julio and Magdalena have the opportunity to give their children better lives, healthcare and education.

this is a photograph of Vladimir Valle GarciVladimir Valle Garci
Vladimir Valle Garci is an alumnus of the Vocational Training School in La Libertad.

Vladimir used to own a small general store until local criminals forced him to pay $3000/month, causing his business to fail. He heard about the vocational training school, and decided to learn baking. Upon graduating, Vladimir and his wife opened a small bakery in La Libertad.

One of the breads he learned to make at the school – a delicious bread filled with chicken and vegetables – has become so popular in La Libertad that his bakery is now the biggest bakery in town!

Vladimir is incredibly grateful to the vocational training school, and shares his fortune with others. Whenever poor people come to ask for food, he is always willing to help them out.

He has also opened his bakery to current students at the Vocational Training School so that they may get some real-world experience.

Vladimir says, “I’ve been blessed by being able to go to your school. Now I’m ‘paying it forward.’ Thank you.”

this is a photograph of Karina PerezKarina Zuleyma Juarez Perez
Karina Zuleyma Juarez Perez was a single mother going through a very difficult situation since she had no income and could not rely on her family for economic assistance. Karina found it very difficult to find a job since she had no skills or high school diploma.

When she heard about the Vocational Training School in San Salvador, she immediately enrolled in cooking classes.

The fact that she had a daughter made it difficult to attend all the classes, but Karina made the effort and finally graduated with her diploma in cooking. Now, she works at a small local food cafeteria and earns a minimum wage that helps pay for food, medicine and clothing for both her daughter and herself.

Karina is proud to be an independent woman who can provide for her family, thanks to the support of the Vocational Training School.

bulletCosmetology School

this is a photograph of Elsy MarroquinElsy Marroquin
Elsy Marroquin is a 33 year- old mother of two children and the proud owner of “Beauty Salon Aileen” in La Libertad.

Elsy was a hairdresser’s assistant but lost her job and remained unemployed for almost 2 years. During this time, her husband was the only provider for the family, and they lived in poverty.

She heard about the Vocational Training School in La Libertad and applied for the beauty classes in hopes of improving her skills. When Elsy heard she was accepted, she was incredibly happy and excited, and set to work on learning.

Upon graduation she opened her own salon and now offers her clients a wide variety of services. She helps about 20 customers per day and earns, on average, $40/day to as much as $150 on a good day. Since the minimum income in El Salvador is approximately $250/month, Elsy has become the main provider for her family.

bulletTailoring School

this is a photograph of Maria Carmen Romero JauaiMaria Carmen Romero Jauai
Maria Carmen Romero Jauai, an older woman of approximately 60 years old, came to the Vocational Training School in La Libertad to improve her sewing and tailoring skills.

Maria lives in a very small, home in La Libertad, where she takes care of her 90- year- old mother, husband and son. Her husband is a fisherman, but his income is too low to take care of the entire family.

When Maria heard about the school she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to learn. She worked very hard and was the best student in her tailoring class. Once she graduated, Maria forced herself to overcome her shyness by seeking a tailoring job at every establishment in her neighborhood.

Today she makes clothes for about 7 people each month and earns an income that allows her entire family to eat well and obtain medical care. Maria’s income has also allowed for her son to attend school.

Senior Centers

bulletLa Libertad Senior Center

this is a photograph of Ms. Ernestina Soriano GomezMs. Ernestina Soriano Gomez
Ms. Ernestina Soriano Gomez is 78 years old and lost ten of her children to typhoid fever and her others due to domestic violence. One daughter was killed by her husband because he did not agree with her decision to become a Christian.

Ernestina says, “I gave birth to 14 children and adopted two. I have buried all of them…I had 14 brothers and all of them are dead.”

Ernestina says she was blessed to educate and care for two adopted children, one an orphan and the other abandoned. The first child was with her since he was 8 days old until he was 17, when the army recruited him. Her adopted son immigrated to the United States where he eventually passed away. Ernestina’s second adopted child died of typhoid fever. In fact, only one of her sons was able to survive the fever, reaching 40 years old, but dying suddenly one day. Ernestina says it’s been 9 years since she buried him, the last of her children.

In addition to all of this hardship, Ernestina relates with sadness: “One day I was with my husband waiting for the bus, and a car that was backing up hit my foot, leaving me crippled for life. Three men, who wanted to take my money, attacked me. One of them hit me hard in the right eye, leaving me blind for life. I lived with my husband until he became very ill. The nurse that took care of him until he passed away gave me a place to live, and I was happy there. That house was destroyed by the earthquake in 2001, and the nurse brought me to the SimplyHelp elderly center. Here I have lived peacefully.”

bulletLourdes Colon Senior Center 2

this is a photograph of Lucas PerezLucas Perez
Living in the second senior center in El Salvador is an elderly man named Lucas Perez, aged 92 years, from the city of Zacatecoluca. He explains (with some bitterness in his voice):

“I don’t know any family. I was raised by an older brother who brought me from Zacatecoluca to La Libertad when I was 12 years old. I did not know love from my father or mother. At this age I performed very heavy construction jobs. One day I had an accident that fractured my back, which stole from me any possibility of having children or a family. I continued my work as a construction worker. One day, the man I worked for took advantage of me by not paying me for my work. I never received a salary; he cheated me. I’ve been in the senior center since it was built, since I don’t have anyone to care for me. Here I can have a place to sleep, eat and be taken care of with love.”


Letter Of Thanks: Victoria Recinos (original letter)

Letter Of Thanks: Ramón Antonio Orellana Velásquez (original letter)