One afternoon after doing some eye surgeries, a few of us had the opportunity to take a break from the OR and visit the Barefoot Angels, or Angeles Descalzos in Spanish, another program by ASAPROSAR that promotes the health, education, and well-being of the people of El Salvador.
The Barefoot Angels program targets young people ages 7 to 18 who work in Santa Ana’s central market and in extremely hazardous conditions at garbage dumps in the area. The program is one of the few alternatives to the city’s gangs.
The program gives the kids a safe place to learn and provides tutoring, computers, English classes, dance, theater, sports, psychological services, and health and sex education. We had a chance to see the library, play room, and a kitchen that provides nutritious snacks. When we arrived, most of the kids were doing their homework and they enjoyed meeting us, playing games, practicing their English, and taking silly pictures.
This wonderful program also focuses on school drop-out prevention and child labor eradication. Parents are encouraged to send their children to school for half a day due to overcrowding and to the Barefoot Angles program for the other half of the day. One of our members gave a couple gifts – a brand new guitar and keyboard. We had fun singing with the children and watching them play with their new musical instruments.
It was such a nice and humbling experience to visit the Barefoot Angels. These kids have very tough circumstances to deal with and the program helps them receive an education, live their childhood, and paves a road towards a promising future away from hazardous work and dangerous gangs.