Project Salvador History
Project Salvador aids the people of El Salvador in implementing their own vision of justice. We are involved in many projects which assist the Salvadoran people. Project Salvador is incorporated in the State of Colorado and recognized by the IRS as the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, “Project Salvador Crafts, Inc.”.
Project Salvador began in 1986 with the efforts of Dominican priest, Father Jim Barnett, who worked in the marginalized community of 22 de Abril in metropolitan San Salvador. Father Jim organized a group of young people who made crafts for sale in the United States to help generate some income for their families. Since these humble beginnings Project Salvador has funded over 150 development and material aid projects and has worked with as many as 30 different artisan groups helping to market their crafts in the United States.
From 1990 to 1993 a team of North Americans working in El Salvador was charged with distributing the funds donated by our U.S. donors. Maximum grants of $2000 were provided to communities all over the country, funding a wide assortment of social, educational, health care, organizational and economic development projects. Over 100 small projects were funding during these last years of the war, and the transition into peacetime.
With the coming of peace to El Salvador, the Project Salvador Board decided to turn the funding decisionmaking over to the Salvadorans. From 1993 to 2006 project funding focused on empowerment projects that provided Salvadorans with long-term skills. A team of four Salvadorans in El Salvador identified and approved the projects to be funded each year, up to a maximum of $5000. Funded projects included: organizing and training young people, teaching marketing skills to women who sell their wares in the public markets, revolving credit funds, community health training, literacy training, support for community radio development and providing scholarships to students who can't afford to attend elementary or high school.
After the devastating earthquakes in January and February 2001, which left a quarter of the country's population homeless, Project Salvador facilitated a very successful two-and-a-half year Earthquake Reconstruction Campaign. From January 2001 to the end of 2003, over $230,000 was raised to support housing reconstruction efforts principally in the parishes of Tierra Blanca, Usulutan and Jayaque, La Libertad.
Since 2006, the Board of Project Salvador has decided to focus our work in the following areas:
1-The Karen Adams Microlending Project was established in 2005 from the estate of Karen Adams, a victim of breast cancer who wanted her inheritance to be used to support those most in need in our world. The Microlending Project aims to support the economic and organizational development of women by establishing Microlending Committees for women in rural communities in north central El Salvador. Project Salvador has continued to raise additional funds for this project which has expanded to 18 communities in 2008, with a 100% payback rate on credit loans ranging from $50-200. Over 500 women and their families have benefited directly from this project.
2-The Center for Arts for Peace in Suchitoto provides a community space for reconciliation and building a cultural identity for the former war zone. Sister of Charity Peggy O’Neill, who has lived in the area for over 20 years, is the driving force behind this effort which includes sponsoring community events, classes, and delegation visits throughout the year.
3-The PICO El Salvador Community Organizing Project is building local leadership capacity to address local, regional, and national issues in the areas of environment, public safety and government accountability.
4-Board member Tony Gasbarro manages our extensive Scholarship Project providing over 200 students with support for their middle school, high school and university studies.
5-Our Proyecto Los Niños monthly donors continue to sustain the Nutrition Program for Children and Senior Citizens in the parish of Plan del Pino serving 70 children and 130 seniors in various stages of malnutrition. Funding covers the cost of basic foodstuffs and a Saturday morning medical clinic at the parish.
Our crafts program generated over $1.4 million in sales, supporting up to 30 different artisan groups throughout El Salvador between 1988 and 2013. Due to changing markets our Board made the difficult decision to close our crafts operation in 2014. We continue to support many of the communities that were part of the crafts program through our ongoing community development projects.