Save The Children Nicaragua and El Salvador Fight COVID-19

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SOUTHINGTON, Connecticut — Save The Children is a nonprofit fund that has worked in more than 117 countries to protect children in need since 1919. The international humanitarian organization also works in both Nicaragua and El Salvador to provide children with food aid, medical services and hygiene equipment through donors and child sponsorships. Since March 2020, Save the Children has transferred services to COVID-19 emergency response with donation centers and online education services added to protect children’s developmental growth in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Save The Children USA COVID-19 Response

Save the Children’s work ranges from providing online education resources to food aid by focusing on poverty-stricken cities or municipalities. As of April 2021, the organization helped 29.5 million people impacted by COVID-19 in 87 countries. From this statistic, 11.8 million children received aid and support.

In addition to its COVID-19 healthcare response, Save the Children supports gender equality and helps to prevent child labor and early child marriages during COVID-19. It also addresses children’s mental health issues by teaching parents how to support their families with advice and tools that encourage children despite the psychological and physical risks of COVID-19.

Save the Children Nicaragua Director Argentina Martinez told The Borgen Project about the organization’s efforts. Martinez explained that it works “to promote child rights, and… alleviate poverty… Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America, after Haiti.”

Save the Children Work in Nicaragua in 2021

Before COVID-19, in 2019, Save the Children USA impacted 4,613,000 children in Nicaragua through child sponsorships and donations. The organization provides children in Nicaragua with access to education, healthcare, nutrition and child rights. Furthermore, Martinez also explained that it works to provide children access to education and violence protection services through NGO partnerships.

In addition, Save the Children Nicaragua aided families that were impacted by Hurricanes Eta and Iota. The humanitarian organization provided Hurricane Eta recovery when it hit on November 3, 2020, in the Jinotega, Leon and Matagalpa provinces of Nicaragua. The hurricane affected 150,000 people. Save the Children supported dislocated families with food aid and temporary shelters through a relief emergency fund. Save the Children also supported Hurricane Iota recovery. Hurricane Iota impacted 400,000 people in Nicaragua since it hit on November 17, 2020. 

Save the Children’s Methodology

From 2019 to 2021, Save the Children has maintained a Theory of Change, or methodology centered on advocacy and innovative reform, by building partnerships and advocating for children’s rights in 120 countries, including Nicaragua. Martinez observed, “We have long experiences working at [the]local level… trying to put the children’s interests in the public budget…”

Working with local government and other NGOs in various plans has helped Save the Children work toward its Ambition for Children strategy, which works to prevent avoidable deaths of all youths under 5 by 2030. As NGOs mobilize supporters, Save the Children is able to broaden its reach in gathering assistance for the Ambition for Children’s violence protection programs with these joint efforts.

Martinez added that education is critical as it aids children’s cognitive growth and provides future opportunities. The initiative is engaged through Save the Children’s reading skill improvement project “with local actors” that help the “Indian indigenous community” and other select communities globally by focusing on improving reading and math skills in and outside of “their regular program of education” to success.

Save the Children El Salvador Plans for 2021

Furthermore, Save the Children has fought gang violence in El Salvador since 1979 through donation centers and child development workshops. Before COVID-19, 18 in 100,000 El Salvadorian children die each year due to violence. Save the Children El Salvador Director Rocio Rodriguez talked to The Borgen Project on how the organization works with El Salvador to protect child rights.

At the beginning of COVID-19, Save the Children helped youths who were forced to relocate back to El Salvador and were consequently sent to quarantine centers with food and hygiene aid. El Salvador was perceived to be at moderate risk of youth not attending school according to the 2018 UNESCO World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) Report.

Psychosocial Support in El Salvador

Notably, Rodriguez observed difficulty “if [children’s] psychosocial needs are not met.” Save the Children conducted a study investigating COVID-19’s effect on children. The study analyzed 31,683 parents and 13,477 youths in 46 countries and found that nearly 46% of 17,565 parents noticed indications of psychological issues in 8,069 children at the beginning of COVID-19. Save the Children International recommended that all families receive necessary “mental health and psychosocial support services” (MHPSS) as a COVID-19 response.

Fortunately, Save the Children El Salvador Program Operation Director Ludin Chavez found that the organization reached 84,000 families with supplies or psychosocial support as of March 19, 2021. Save the Children worked with El Salvador’s Humanitarian Country Team to help respond to increased domestic violence in May 2020 and tropical storms Cristobal and Amanda in June 2020 by initiating Start Network funds.
Rodriguez said that Save the Children has focused on its priorities as it “work[s]with children to raise their own voices, to make their case with local authorities and even authorities on other levels.”

A Look Ahead

Save The Children Nicaragua and El Salvador help children in extreme poverty. These humanitarian organizations focus on violence, food insecurity, healthcare and education to aid children in need. Save the Children works to protect children’s rights by helping vulnerable families living in extreme poverty and working with NGOs. Through efforts like that of Save the Children Nicaragua and El Salvador, children worldwide are able to have better living conditions and futures.

— Evan Winslow
Photo: Unsplash

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