Serving Children To Change Futures
A social worker with NPH El Salvador explains how NPH provides a refuge from societal violence across the country.
Reported by Carmina Salazar
Communication Officer, NPH El Salvador
March 13, 2019
Aracely joined the NPH family 13 years ago as a social worker. “For me, working at NPH has been a rewarding experience,” she says. “I feel very pleased to be part of an organization like NPH where I have had the opportunity to help disadvantaged people overcome the obstacles between them and their full development.”
Serving as social worker has allowed Aracely to become intimately familiar with the societal crises facing El Salvador. In El Salvador, young children and teenagers are often exposed to different dangers when they do not have the care or guidance of a family member or guardian.
“When I came to NPH in 2006, children would arrive here for a variety of reasons, including losing their parents, negligence within the family, or because their guardians were in jail or had terminal diseases. But today, another factor has been added to this list: Social violence in our country, like the harassment or recruitment of teenagers into anti-social groups. In our home, there are about 12 cases of children who came to us for these reasons.
“Though government authorities tried to reintegrate these children back into their biological families, ultimately they did not. There was a fear these children would be further exposed to this type of violence. Unfortunately, young kids who are recruited can face dropping out of school, disappearance, even death.”
While the darkness of violence can surround many children growing up in these situations in El Salvador, NPH is proud to be a light in the lives of the children in our care.
“The lives of children living at NPH are completely different. They are part of a family that provides them with love, security, and protection, as well as the fulfillment of all their basic needs. In addition, when the kids have been exposed to some kind of violence, they receive the psychological attention needed to overcome the trauma of these memories.”
NPH provides support and stability in their lives. Children in other residential care facilities may only stay for short stints, “hopping” from one home to another every few years. NPH knows that this instability leads to insecurity in their development, and keeps them from reaching their full potential. This is why our long-term model, accepting children into our family for life, provides them with everything they need and also allows them to grow up with confidence for their futures.
In the 19 years since its founding, NPH El Salvador has supported many children who have come from a variety of different situations. For Aracely, there are many good memories she keeps in her heart.
“I remember when we welcomed a group of five siblings to NPH. Their story was very touching for me. Their parents were mentally ill and they were not able to provide the children what they needed. They had gone without food for long periods of time. Once they entered NPH, they started to study — none of them had attended school before. The youngest of them was severely malnourished, so he had to stay at the hospital for some time before joining our family at NPH. Now the kids have grown and they have finished high school. The youngest of them will start his second year of medicine at the university this year.”
These are the memories and moments that keep us going, that remind us why we work for our children, and that motivate us to continue working on the legacy that we have built—seen in the lives of adults across Latin America and the Caribbean who now have jobs, homes, and families of their own, all thanks to the love and care of a childhood spent at NPH.
Photo above: Aracely hugs a proud girl who finished an art project; Photos below: Aracely receives a special gift for her 10th work anniversary with NPH; Aracely shares a gift with a quinceañera celebrant.