In the educational centers in Amatitlán and Villa Nueva, we focused on Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops with students between 13 and 25 years-old. These youth have limited economic resources, and have been exposed to domestic violence, conflicts in the educational centers, and integration into criminal gangs. The schools are located in dangerous areas commonly referred to as a Red Zone due to the high crime rate. Family disintegration is a factor affecting many children and adolescents. For all these reasons, students often arrive at school with a lot of anger. Violent conflicts are common in school because students do not know how to solve problems peacefully, so they often get into physical fights and altercations.
We have also facilitated AVP workshops with the teaching staff of The New Life Mixed Educational Project of the Dominican Sisters of the Rosary. The Sisters house 296 children, ages 5 to 12, in the Terminal Market area (zone 8 and 9 of the capital). The boys and girls are from low-income families whose parents earn a living as street vendors, porters, servers, tortilla makers, or food sellers. The children go to work before school, starting at 3:00am, and after school for the rest of the day selling with their parents. Their living conditions are terribly overcrowded, and there is absolutely no privacy.
The Terminal Market is not a healthy place for children. They are exposed to drugs, pornography, prostitution, gambling machines, and intra and extra familial violence. It is against this harsh panorama that the Educational Project aims to provide a space for comprehensive training so these children see that it is possible to live in respect, solidarity, and unity. The aim is for them to learn to listen to each other, and to know that they are important and a gift for humanity. All of the work of teachers and staff revolves around this purpose.
The teaching staff is preparing to replicate the AVP workshops with their students in the classrooms. In this way, the staff hope to sow the seeds of the AVP philosophy in the lives of the children, and through the children, in the lives of their parents.