Salvadoran Paper to Support Dreams of At-Risk Youth
By Jillian Slutzker
February 2, 2015
As the country’s drug and gang-related crime increasingly captures headlines and the attention of world leaders, the 100-year-old paper is generating some positive news—printing and distributing copies of the “Desafio de Soñar mi Vida” (“The Challenge of Dreaming My Life”) manuals to 10,000 youth in 13 municipalities hardest hit by violence. This crime prevention tool was developed by Creative Associates International.
“The Challenge of Dreaming My Life methodology will enable at-risk youth in the selected communities to develop life plans that will make them less vulnerable to involvement with violent and criminal activities,” explained Harold Sibaja, who runs the El Salvador Crime and Violence Prevention Project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by Creative.
The project’s 77 outreach centers in 13 municipalities provide safe spaces and programs—including recreation, job training, tutoring, life skills support and volunteer opportunities—that keep young people off the streets, where they often become victims or perpetrators of violence. The dream manuals help youth to set goals and chart their progress.
Private sector commitment
The “Challenge of Dreaming My Life” printing initiative is part of a $60,000 partnership, known as “Estamos con vos” (“We are with You”) between La Prensa Gráfica and the project. These funds will add to the $5.8 million invested by USAID in the violence prevention project in 13 municipalities.
The partnership agreement was signed in a ceremony on Jan. 26, attended by USAID officials, mayors, La Prensa Grafica Board members, project staff and youth and volunteers from many of the project’s outreach centers.
While homicide levels have surged in recent months following a failed government-brokered truce between two ruling gangs, La Prensa Gráfica’s commitment to youth development and countering crime is as old as the paper itself.
“For a hundred years La Prensa Gráfica newspaper…. has been convinced that developing children´s physical and cultural skills contributes to the prevention of violence, to progress and to improving the quality of life of Salvadoran communities which is so needed, ” said José Roberto Dutriz, President and Director of the paper, speaking at the ceremony.
Community-based violence prevention activities in El Salvador and neighboring countries have proven successful at improving residents’ perceptions of security, according to a recent study by USAID and Vanderbilt University. Private sector partners like La Prensa Gráfica have a big role to play in ramping up and sustaining those initiatives.
“The document signed today contributes to a violence and crime prevention program,” said Larry Sacks, USAID Country Director for El Salvador, speaking at the ceremony. “This $60,000 partnership will provide materials to support youth participating in the outreach centers that we have supported through our crime prevention program.”
La Prensa Gráfica is the latest company to join a coalition of private sector partners supporting the project, including the Microsoft Corp. and Claro El Salvador, a major national mobile, television and Internet service provider.