The Community Volunteer Experience

Author Portrait_Rosa Marroquín & Carolina Marroquín, Community Volunteers in Cuyagualo, Sonsonate
Rosa Marroquín & Carolina Marroquín

Community Volunteers

Save the Children in El Salvador

March 2, 2018


A dedicated nurse helping to improve the health of people in need, and a devoted teacher shaping the minds of future leaders. Those were the dreams of Rosa and Carolina, two sisters who have been community volunteers with Save the Children’s programs for nearly 8 years now. Unfortunately, when they were just teenagers a tragedy struck their family – their father passed away and their mother found herself overwhelmed with 6 children. Rosa and Carolina’s mother took the difficult decision of taking them out of school so they could work and help with the family income. Rosa and Carolina desire for their own children, and for all children in their community, the educational and development opportunities they couldn’t have for themselves. With their work, they are making Save the Children’s vision come to life: a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

Before Save the Children came to our community, our leaders used to think only about projects to improve the infrastructure, mainly paving dirt roads. So when Victor, Save the Children in El Salvador’s Community Mobilization Coordinator, presented sponsorship programs to us, people were at first not very interested because it was about education, health and protection for children and adolescents, more than direct and more tangible improvements like new roads. Some people even told us that Save the Children was evil and they would steal the children in our community. Ignorance and indifference dominated people’s minds. It wasn’t easy, but after attending the community mobilization sessions, the leaders came to understand that Save the Children had to involve the entire community in these programs in order to implement them, and that no decisions would be made without their input. In these sessions we also discussed the importance that having a strong educational foundation, and skills in personal hygiene and health, would have for our children. Little by little, the minds of community members began to change.

Little Idania, who at 18 months already can say 55 words!
Little Idania, who at 18 months already can say 55 words!

We’ve been community volunteers for almost 8 years now. Back when we started, we had just one group of 5 – 10 children in our Early Learners programs. Today, we have seven active groups with nearly 30 children each. We’ve reached the hearts of so many mothers over those years, and now they know the importance of starting learning very early, before children enter primary school. Even the teachers are happier and satisfied, because children already know things such as how to hold a pencil, colors and vowels when they start kindergarten.

Another success has been changing people’s minds about the future of adolescents. In the past, adolescents would only study until 9th grade, then opt for the traditional, and considered easier, path of becoming a farmer, security guard, getting married or even joining a gang. Now, adolescents don’t want that anymore. They want to finish high school and go to college. With sponsorship support, our community management group has learned how to create projects and opportunities for adolescents. So far, we’ve managed to get 18 scholarships for students to continue higher education in high school or college this year. Our community now has adolescents with technical studies in computer engineering, who have become role models for the younger ones. Adolescents are also part of the community management committees.

Rosa with her niece, Idania.
Rosa with her niece, Idania.

The only regrets we have? All the wasted years without the knowledge we have now, the early childhood education we couldn’t give to our own children because we didn’t know anything about it. Our own children are grown-up now, but with our younger nieces and nephews we have put into practice all the strategies we teach to the other women in the community. We know for sure the Early Learning programs work, because we’ve seen the success in our niece Idania. She is just 18 months and can already say 55 words! Even the doctor is surprised with that!

We could share so many stories about the work we are able to accomplish in our community thanks to Save the Children, but in the end all of these success stories make us proud because we consider them our little triumphs!

Without dedicated community volunteers like Rosa and Carolina, Save the Children’s programs would not be possible. Children and families in their community are sure proud and thankful for having them, and being a part of their community’s growth themselves!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.


The Real Sponsorship: Not Money but Commitment

Angie Montes

Angie Montes, Communications Officer

El Salvador

August 26, 2013

daily routine: drive a truck to distant communities where we’re met by enthusiastic
children, parents and teachers eager to partner with us to achieve a better
quality of life. But some days are particularly rewarding, and I want to tell
you about one.




21st was not just another regular visit to Caserío San Antonio Arriba
in Ahuachapán department, especially for 5-year-old Brenda and her sponsoring
family from the United States, Ana Flores and her daughter Camila.


and her curious peers were waiting for the “foreign lady” to come through the door.
Surrounded by kindergarteners, they finally met! Although I frequently hear about
sponsor/sponsored child relations built through letters, it was a different
feeling when an excited Ana hugged Brenda and said, “I´m Ana, your sponsor.”

Ana showing Brenda and peers a picture of them

Ana showing Brenda and peers a picture of them

visit only lasted a few hours, but quality time was spent talking and learning
about how Brenda and her community live and about limited health/education opportunities
and other barriers in rural areas. They also talked about and how poor families
manage to move forward. It was surprising the way they understood each other, mothers
and daughters, same ages and dreams, but different potential to fulfill them.

sure that, despite her age, Brenda understood that behind that unknown face was
a tangible opportunity to better her life.

Mothers and daughters having quality time at school

Mothers and daughters having quality time at school


be honest, even after a year with Save the Children, I never realized how committed
a sponsor can be to their sponsored child. Ana Flores taught me that sponsoring
a child is about much more than a monthly donation. It’s about creating a way
for vulnerable children to attain better opportunities to succeed in life,
which is exactly what Brenda has now.

Ana wrote on her blog after her visit, “Getting
to meet Brenda has made our bond to her, her mom and community that much
stronger, but I truly believe that the process of sending and receiving letters
and correspondence can create a connection that's very real. As a sponsor, you
can really become part of this child's emotional life and her of yours. It's

Interested in joining Ana and the rest of our community of
sponsors? Become a sponsor today!