Project - Programa Velasco

Programa Velasco

Programa Velasco (PV's) purpose is to educate and empower children and women entrepreneurs in El Salvador to build strong families and create better futures. The focus is on a Women's Empowerment Project (WEP) and financially supporting access to early childhood education.

Many of the families and entrepreneurs that PV supports and empowers are Salvadoran survivors of multifaceted trauma (historical, systemic, community, familial, and interpersonal). Many adults have survived the civil war and continue to be re-traumatized through ongoing community violence and socioeconomic inequity, which is manifested by poverty, violence, gender inequities and discrimination, minimal access to social provisions in their local communities, and when those pressures become too much to bear, forced migration within and outside of El Salvador. These challenges interlace and women become more financially dependent on their male partners. Mothers and their children then experience more trauma and violence, and they face higher rates of gender inequity and discrimination.

Programa Velasco will design, purchase materials and labor needed to construct a one room mental health clinic in Tepecoyo (the rural program location), as well as the salary costs for Programa Velasco's clinical psychologist (for 2 months). Currently, the counseling services are run out of a busy community center, where privacy and a quiet, peaceful environment are not feasible. The construction of a space dedicated solely to counseling sessions will ensure greater confidentiality and allow participants to feel more comfortable and safe when discussing difficult matters. Through this project, Programa Velasco hopes to continue challenging stigma around mental health, further normalize the use of counseling as a means for personal development and ultimately encourage more program participants to take advantage of Programa Velasco's counseling services.

Prior to 2019, Tepecoyo community members did not have any economic or personal development program available to them. Expansion of this program to a location which otherwise does not host such opportunities, increased the number of women reaching their potential and the number of family members' lives changed. By increasing in scale and impact across geographical lines, it was also demonstrated that a slightly refined version of the curriculum can be implemented within rural community settings that face unique challenges and contexts different from the urban setting PV was used to.