9 Ways You Can Help El Salvador

1. Read. The more you know about El Salvador, the better you can motivate others to help. Read a survey of Salvadoran history since the arrival of the Toltecs and Aztecs nearly a millennium ago. Read a book about Salvadoran leaders, from José Matías Delgado (who helped lead the country to independence) to Juan José Cañas (diplomat, poet, and composer of the national anthem) to Oscar Arnulfo Romero (Catholic priest and human rights defender). Follow Salvadoran current events on the web. Check out Nuestro Ahora's collection of news links in English and Spanish here.

2. Learn, teach. If you're a student, do a research paper on El Salvador. Study issues in education or health. If you're a teacher, plan a lesson or special project about El Salvador. If you're a parent, look for a fun "Salvadoran experience" your family can share.

3. Write. Voice your perspective on issues related to El Salvador. Send an e-mail of support to the Nuestro Ahora scholarship students. Author a guest editorial for your community or school newspaper. Write poetry or stories about issues you believe are most important. Share your work with friends and family or organizations that support Salvadoran causes.

4. Speak. If you've traveled, volunteered, or worked in El Salvador, then give a talk to a group you belong to. If you've never been to El Salvador, talk to people who have. Ask them about their experiences.

5. Travel. If you have the means, visit El Salvador. Consider a group trip or "delegation" which will help you save costs and, equally important, provide you with a great community. Study abroad for a summer or semester. There are many excellent programs in the region. As much as possible, do business with Salvadoran vendors for transport, lodging, and tours. While in El Salvador, absorb the beautiful scenery and historic and cultural sites, while also taking the time to meet local people, to learn about their lives, and to understand the challenges they may face. Finally, stay connected, and committed, once you return home. For example, if you visited a drought-prone region, involve your friends in raising funds for water wells. And, of course, if you meet students without access to education, refer them to Nuestro Ahora. Support them.

6. See, hear, eat. . .enjoy! You can see movies about El Salvador such as Innocent Voices, Roses in December, Salvador, Romero, or Choices of the Heart. Listen to Salvadoran music. Eat at a Salvadoran restaurant. Visit a museum or attend a performance. Enjoy and appreciate the many ways to partake in Salvadoran culture and share such enthusiasms with others.

7. Meet. There are more than 3 million Salvadorans living in the US today. Find opportunities to meet with your Salvadoran neighbors, to learn from them, and to invite their participation in local organizations. Make an effort to reach out to new arrivals, who might welcome your help and support in finding housing or jobs and in generally adjusting to life in the States.

8. Invest. Buy Salvadoran coffee from fair trade sellers or purchase jewelry, crafts, and other gifts from Salvadoran artisans. This directly supports farmers and/or artists and their families in El Salvador. You may be in a position to invest in a Salvadoran business or to join a group of investors with Salvadoran interests. Depending on where you work, you might also engage your employer in Salvadoran investment or trade.

9. Donate. Make a charitable contribution to one of the many reputable organizations assisting those at need in El Salvador. Your gift may be large or small but no matter the amount it will make a difference. You can support special projects or offer to help "where needed most." You can give individually; you can organize a fundraiser at school or with your team or group; you can give in your workplace. Many companies will even match your donation. If you'd like to help Nuestro Ahora with making education available to El Salvador's neediest kids, click here.