There is a veritable collective story of transformation taking place at the “Francisco Primo de Verdad y Ramos” elementary school in San José Palmas. In May, the community held a celebration to inaugurate the first stage of completed improvements to the school’s infrastructure. The only 1st through 6th grade elementary school in the community, the “Francisco Primo de Verdad y Ramos” elementary school was built upon the edge of a cliff. There was a constant danger posed by young children playing too close to the cliff’s edge. Two inadequate latrines without running water were the only available sanitary facility serving over 270 children and their teachers. Lacking even basic classroom furnishings, the school had no playground of any kind.
As a result of Project Fortaleza’s community organizing processes, parents in the community came up with several improvement projects they wanted to carry out at the school. Funding that Transformacion Urbana, ConeXión Mosaico’s non-governmental organization, received from the New Zealand embassy was used to purchase chain link fencing. The community then pitched in and provided the necessary labor to fence in the entire school grounds. A donation from a partner organization, Operación Bendición, purchased building materials and playground equipment. Again, the community provided the necessary labor, building new school restrooms and setting up the playground.
Successfully carrying out these projects was an important step for the San José Palmas community, for several reasons. Practically speaking, there was a dramatic change in the students’ learning environment at the elementary school. These improvements will have a very real impact on their physical safety, health and emotional well-being. However, there are other impacts with long-term implications for the entire community as well. Parents were able to see in a very tangible way that working together they have the power to make substantial improvements in their environment.
When you support ConeXión Mosaico, you are helping make real change in the lives of slum dwellers. Many of these changes are immediate, tangible improvements. But the most important changes of all will have a far greater impact over the long run. Powerlessness into strength. Hopelessness into dreams. Apathy into action.