El Salvador: In San Salvador, the country’s capital, Carolina Merino and her co-workers operate a Curative Education care centre as well as La Tutuni, an initiative for children coming from the urban district of Tutunichapa, a part of the city which is known for its high criminality. La Tutuni offers to the children: assistance and care, meals and time to play as well as education in reading and writing.
El Salvador is not only one of the international trading spots for Cocaine, but also a place where the consumption and dealing of drugs is deeply enrooted. Tutunichipa is located close the city centre and counted amongst the most dangerous districts of the city, as it is one of the countries drug centres. Drug addiction, gangs, extreme poverty and prostitution are affecting the lives of the people living there.
Casa de la Esperanza, a facility for the homeless, administered by the evangelic church, is a place where all kinds of people – young and old – find support and shelter. It was this institution, which Carolina Merino visited, and with it she came to the place of her own future initiative – La Tutuni.
The children came to Carolina Merino, without her having to search for them. One child told another about La Tutuni and brought it along. After visiting the initiative the new child would keep coming back and that way more and more kids attended La Tutuni. The only condition is that the children have to attend the initiative on a regular basis. This is a rule, which is being experienced by the children as a gift rather than a restriction; If it was up to them, they would love to just stay there all the time. If only La Tutuni would not close every night!
The kids learn a lot there, starting with brushing their teeth and washing their hands, but also the respectful attitude towards the other children and finally reading and writing. There are three different groups of children aged between 3 and 13 attending painting- and hand-puppet class and a class with a psychologist.
For a long time the groups were accommodated in an apartment, which however provided an insufficient amount of space. However, some months ago, the initiative has moved into two additional buildings on the same property that have been made available by the Evangelical Church.
Next to their work with disadvantaged children, Carolina Merino and her co-workers continue their successful work with the Curative Education care centre. The children being assisted come from rather wealthy families, as the care centre is not free of charge. The parents, who look upon the therapeutic work as an extra tuition, often check on what is being learned by their children. Despite the obvious disabilities of the children, some therapeutic games cannot be carried though due to the fact that they are being considered useless by the parents.
Both initiatives, as different as they may be, contribute to the spreading of the Waldorf movement in El Salvador. With sponsorships and donations La Tutuni keeps the wolf from the door, whereas the Curative Education care centre can stand on its own feet. Therefore the support of La Tutuni remains the main focus, in order to continue their impressive development.
And when a child from Tutunichapa convinces his mother that it is too young to drink coffee, or when the children of La Tutuni develop a sense of community, the success and fertility of the achieved work becomes visible.