September 2022 Update:
Since 2014, St. Sabina has been sponsoring university students from the town of Cinquera, as well as students from the small communities surrounding Cinquera. Cinquera is a unique town. It was totally destroyed during the Civil War and families returned as the end of the war was nearing, around 1991. These families rebuilt their town and established a strong leadership committee to oversee the reconstruction and redevelopment of Cinquera. In 1996, Cinquera was the first city where scholarships were offered to university students. Since then, many scholarship students have graduated and now have jobs in Cinquera and throughout El Salvador. When a student graduates and finds work, they pay back half of the funds they received while on scholarship. Because of this, along with the strong leadership in the town, Cinquera is nearing the reality that they soon will be able to sustain the scholarship program on their own. This is a huge accomplishment, made possible by all those that have donated to the scholarship fund. While poverty still exists, Cinquera is now proof of the impact education makes. Education has transformed Cinquera into a safe village, free from gang activity.
While we celebrate the success of Cinquera, there are many, many other communities in El Salvador that are in need. San Isidro is just such a community. Its population of 10,000 people is made up of 7 small villages. There is much poverty there and also gang activity, and St. Sabina has been asked to transition from sponsoring students in Cinquera to sponsoring students in San Isidro. As students graduate from Cinquera, new students from San Isidro will be offered scholarships. The village which St. Sabina will help is called El Llano de la Hacienda, whose population is 1,500. San Isidro, like Cinquera, is located in Cabañas, the poorest department (state) in El Salvador.
Like our students in Cinquera, our students in San Isidro will have to travel by bus to get to the university, which is about 4 hours away. They spend their weeks at school and travel home to be with their families on the weekends. The scholarships that St. Sabina provides help the families cover the cost of tuition, room and board, and some miscellaneous expenses like internet fees and bus fare. For one student to complete one year of university studies, the cost is approximately $1300. While on scholarship, the students are required to attend a monthly meeting and do a monthly community service project, along with maintaining their grades.
The young people in El Salvador that do not have the hope of an education have very few options. Even though they want to remain in El Salvador, many choose to migrate to the United States to find work and to avoid being forced into a gang. Unfortunately, many youth are recruited by gangs at very young ages. The organization in El Salvador that coordinates the scholarship program, the Center for Exchange and Solidarity (CIS) states, “Education is the most powerful tool for the families to maintain their homes and to get out of extreme poverty.” It is often said that every young person that receives a scholarship is one less person that will join a gang.
Our annual special collection to support our scholarship students will be held the weekend of October 1-2. You can also donate online with your credit card or ACH payment at any time. You can sponsor a student for 1 full year or ½ year, or make a donation of any amount. Any donation you can make will help. Your generosity helps St. Sabina reach out to those that need our help.
Students sponsored by St. Sabina
St. Sabina began a partnership with CIS (Center for Exchange and Solidarity) in 2014 to sponsor scholarships for students in Cinquera, El Salvador. There are 17 students in Cinquera on scholarship and donations from St. Sabina cover the costs of 6 students to attend University.
The Youth Scholarship and Formation Program of CIS is different from other programs because:
1.Scholarships are not necessarily offered to the person with the best grades. Scholarships are awarded to students of families that live in poverty and/or in families where one or both parents fought in the war.
2.CIS provides comprehensive formation and expects from the youth a commitment to social and economic justice. As part of development and formation, monthly meetings and workshops on various topics are integrated into the program.
3.The community must form a scholarship committee to oversee the program to ensure the program and its objectives.
4.The youth incorporate themselves into the development of the community and country. The goal is to develop individuals who will contribute to the development of the country and not to educate a person who will eventually emigrate.
In January of 2015 we sent our first delegation to Cinquera, El Salvador to meet our scholarship students. We partnered with Our Lady of the Presentation Parish who sponsor students in the community of San Rafael Cedros.
Congratulations to Heydi Gomez Espinoza who graduated with her degree in Physical Education! This past year Heydi has been busy putting her education to use by setting up a gym in her community of San Francisco Echeverria, a small village just outside of Cinquera. Congratulations, Heydi!