Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador

by Perkin Educational Opportunities Foundation, Inc.
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Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
Re-imagine rural education in COVID-19 El Salvador
2022 graduation
2022 graduation

Happy new year, dear friend.

Another successful school year has ended at Amún Shéa. Our students, teachers, and staff are on vacation. And with the year of 2023 just beginning, we look ahead and think about all of the possibilities for this new year: new lessons, new partnerships, and even new field trips and so much more. 

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 made clear to us the need to improve the education system around the world. Here in Northern Morazán of El Salvador at Amún Shéa Center for Integrated Development is where we work to make a difference and provide quality education to our students. Amún Shéa is an educational center that strives to transform and positively impact public education and develop competencies and life skills in children and youth. In 2023, our mission continues--there is surely work to be done!

But before we look too far ahead, let's take a moment to review some highlights from 2022. 

  • Throughout the year, in true Amún Shéa fashion, our students and teachers made science happen in real life at the Dr. William Brinker laboratory. We're talking cheese, wine, fungi, and vanilla, too! Here's the deal: The national dairy market depends on the pharmaceutical market to curdle milk and produce milk derivatives. At Amún Shéa, our students have researched a natural lemon-based substitute for curdling milk and making curd, cheese, and yogurt, with excellent results and, best of all, without the use of chemicals, thus improving the quality of nutrition. The objective is to provide an alternative to our dairy producers and processors in the territory without dependence on the market for the acquisition of the curdling agent. Pretty cool, right?
  • For the first time ever, Amún Shéa students participated in the global School Enterprise Challenge. The School Enterprise Challenge is run by the Teach a Man to Fish organization and encourages students all around the world to develop new skills through planning and running a business. This challenge aligns perfectly with what our students already do at Amún Shéa.
  • In the months of September, October, and November, Amún Shéa students were present and active in various community and institutional celebrations, like the town's parade for El Salvador's 201st year of Independence. There was dancing, marching, and smiles abound! Or like the commemoration of World Peace Day. Students recited poems, shared personal reflections, and created artistic tributes in honor of a peaceful world. Did you know that creating a culture of peace is a core pillar of our mission at Amún Shéa? World Peace Day is every day of the year for us. 

It is safe to say that all throughout the year, Amún Shéa teachers, students, and staff were busy on the ground, making quality rural education happen every day!

Did you know that a healthy operation of Amún Shéa school currently requires $10,000 per month? That amount allows us to 1) provide meals for our students, 2) pay our teachers and staff a fair and dignified wage, 3) supply our classrooms with learning resources and tools, 4) keep our school campus site clean and healthy, and so much more.

With your continued financial support, we can keep this life-changing education going in rural El Salvador. Please consider becoming a monthly donor or making a generous one-time donation today.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and check out our website. 

Mil gracias. Many thanks. 

Students dancing in town parade
Students dancing in town parade
Science in action!
Science in action!
welcome to Amun Shea
welcome to Amun Shea
Ready for the School Enterprise Challenge!
Ready for the School Enterprise Challenge!

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Students with Teacher Carmelina Making Cheese
Students with Teacher Carmelina Making Cheese
Hi friend,
Happy September and greetings from PEOF and Amun Shea school! The following is a brief report on how we're reimagining what rural education can be in El Salvador: 
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 made clear to us the need to improve the education system around the world. Here in Northern Morazán of El Salvador at Amún Shéa Center for Integrated Development is where we work to make a difference and provide quality education to our students. Amún Shéa is an educational center that strives to transform and positively impact public education and develop competencies and life skills in children and youth.

We're making science happen in real life at the 
Dr. William Brinker laboratory with cheese, wine, fungi, and vanilla, too!
  • Production of curd, cheese, and yogurt by using a natural curdling agent. The national dairy market depends on the pharmaceutical market to curdle milk and produce milk derivatives. At Amún Shéa, our students have researched a natural lemon-based substitute for curdling milk and making curd, cheese, and yogurt, with excellent results and, best of all, without the use of chemicals, thus improving the quality of nutrition. The objective is to provide an alternative to our dairy producers and processors in the territory without dependence on the market for the acquisition of the curdling agent. 
  • Winemaking. Solid microorganisms collected from the mountain in the highest and most isolated area where there are no houses nearby to avoid contaminants have been used, spending a period of two years for purification in an anaerobic medium, before being used in the wines. Subsequently, they have been converted to liquids and combined with water and panela sweet for their activation. To make the wines we have substituted the yeast that is bought in the market processed, and in its place, we have used the activated microorganisms. The objective is to contribute with an alternative for producers of all-natural artisanal wines, as well as to measure the effectiveness of natural microbiology for artisanal winemaking. This research continues, we are measuring the durability and the benefit to the consumer industry.
  • Mycorrhizae fungi harvesting. Our producers still depend on Agro services for food production. With this research, we want to offer our producers an alternative and replace chemical fertilizers in production. The mycorrhiza is a fungus that helps stimulate the root system of plants, providing large amounts of phosphorus that is available in the soil, they capture it and supply it directly to the plant. The objective is to demonstrate the importance of microbiology in production and specialized research on specific products that improve production, without depending on an agro service. Positively impacting the preservation of natural resources and good nutrition for families.
  • Native vanilla. We are also conducting research on the different methods of production of the native vanilla that is available in the territory in order to later implement technology for the industrialization of production. We also want our students to know the importance of preserving these native and endangered species. 

Your donations make this work possible. Thank you!

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Day of the Cross decoration
Day of the Cross decoration

It is May and we are in the thick of the school year here at Amún Shéa. 

If you've been with us for some time, you probably already know that Amún Shéa means 'tierra de semillas' or 'land of seedlings' in the native Lenca Potón language. The Lenca are a Mesoamerican indigenous people of southwestern Honduras and eastern El Salvador, which includes the Morazán region where our students and their families live and trace their ancestral roots. It is no coincidence that our name is derived from the Lenca language. At Amún Shéa, we are committed to preserving ancestral memory. This commitment aligns directly with honoring Mother Earth through our daily habits and actions as well as through special campaigns and holidays. 

On April 22nd, in unison with others across the globe, our Amún Shéa community celebrated ‘Earth Day’ (see photo). It may sound like an exaggeration, but we really mean it when we say that every day is Earth Day at Amún Shéa. Honoring Mother Earth by protecting and respecting natural resources is at the core of our DNA. This is reflected in our teachings, our student investigations, and our greater reforestation efforts at PEOF. It is precisely why our students were named Earth Heroes in the Prensita of La Prensa Gráfica (a national Salvadoran media outlet) last year.

On May 3rd, our Amún Shéa community celebrated ‘Dia de la cruz’ or ‘ Day of the Cross’ (see photo). This particular day represents a fusion of Spanish religious tradition and Native/indigenous cultural practices to express gratitude and ask for prosperity. 

Thank you for helping to make Amún Shéa possible. We are so grateful and remain in great need of your support today. 

If you'd like to visit us someday, please send us an email at learn@peofoundation.org. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @peofelsalvador.

Earth day celebration
Earth day celebration

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Daphne visiting Amun Shea with Melida and Xochilt
Daphne visiting Amun Shea with Melida and Xochilt

The following is a report based on a site visit recently conducted at Amún Shéa by one of PEOF's Board Directors, Daphne Hofschulte.

Education is alive and well in the Eastern region of El Salvador through the amazing programs at the Amún Shéa Educational Center in Perquín, Morazán.  It was my privilege to meet on site with Executive Director Mélida Bonilla and her dedicated staff for an enjoyable and informative afternoon, December 15, 2021.

Problem-based learning in action for all

Each teacher explained how problem-based learning is central to the curriculum in their classroom.  Each classroom exhibits colorful displays that underscore living and learning in the real world as experienced by the students. Amún Shéa is accredited by the Salvadoran Ministry of Education (MINED).  Xochilt Pocasangre, Coordinadora del Centro Interactivo para el Aprendizaje de las Ciencias of the MINED is pictured with Director Daphne Hofschulte on the left and PEOF Executive Director Mélida Bonilla on the right.  Xochilt works in the CIAC science center, a regional facility housed at Amún Shéa, available to all teachers and students in the Eastern Region of El Salvador.

Forging partnerships with local government

Mélida and the mayor of Perquín signed an agreement of community support for senior student research projects. A current example is a project testing the pH level of local soils to facilitate crops that will best thrive in the community.

Land of seedlings, quite literally

Each student spends one hour per week in the school garden. Research is underway to grow and select seed varieties that are best suited to the local climate and soil conditions. Excess vegetables will be sold from the newly constructed sales building. 

For more on-the-ground updates, please be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. Please know that every dollar you contribute goes directly to supporting Amún Shéa and its students for a more peaceful and brighter El Salvador. Now more than ever we need your support.

Wishing you prosperity and good health in this new year of 2022,

The PEOF+ Amún Shéa team

School garden
School garden
Melida Bonilla and the mayor of Perquin
Melida Bonilla and the mayor of Perquin

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Executive director, Melida Bonilla, and Arambala
Executive director, Melida Bonilla, and Arambala

Hi friend,
Here at Amún Shéa we are entering our final months of the school year. The school year will end the third week of November. Our students recently celebrated the bicentennial of El Salvador's independence--you can see the celebration on our Facebook page.

We at PEOF + Amún Shéa recognize the importance of building within our communities and uniting forces to bring real change on the ground. That's exactly why we continue our partnership with MINED in replicating our innovate methodology within the public school system. And that's also why we recently formed two new partnerships: with 1) Universidad Gerardo Barrios (UGB) and 2) Arambala local government. Our partnership with UGB will strengthen our commitment to implementing quality research and providing our students with the tools necessary to broaden their knowledge and sharpen their research skills. This partnership comes just in time as we launch our Student Research Fund for the year. You can find more details about the fund by clicking here.

We're also proud to share some recent videos from Amún Shéa students as they briefly introduce their current research projects. You can see these videos on our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to our channel so that you can see more videos about our students as they become available.

Our partnership with the Arambala local government will expand our efforts centered on sustainable development in the region. We're excited to see where this partnership will lead. 

These mutual partnerships are just one way we're reimagining rural education here in El Salvador!

So, you see, when you give to Amún Shéa, you give to multiple communities throughout Northern Morazán, communities that have long been abandoned and marginalized. We appreciate your continued support.


Thanks for all you do!

Youtube student videos
Youtube student videos
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Perkin Educational Opportunities Foundation, Inc.

Location: Greenwood, DE - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @peofelsalvador
Project Leader:
Michelle Martin Romero
Lancaster, Pa. United States
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