Between 23rd and 26th February 2012 a small group of members of the Honours Programme of the World Baden-Powell Fellowship visited teh Central American country of El Salvador.
The aim of this visit was to see with our own eyes what the donations - made by the World Scout Foundation to Messengers of Peace Projects all over the world - achieved and what the effect was on the National Scout Oganization of that particular country.
The Association of Scouts of El Salvador are running a “Peer to Peer” project in a youth detention centre aimed at giving purpose to youngsters, who for a variety of reasons, such as being abandoned by their families, find themselves incarcerated in jails. Without help, and abandoned as they are by society, they are condemned to a meaningless life in prison with interludes, outside, amongst violent gangs.
The Scouts are the only organisation who accesses these “Child” inmates. The Rover Scouts work hard to first gain trust and then though value based education programmes show that the inmates are youngsters just like them and that the Scouts really care about their well-being. Young inmates learn that they need not be excluded from society and that with commitment they too can realise their dreams and reach their full potential.
Realising the potential of this project the First Lady of El Salvador and her department of Social Inclusion became activily involved and as a result of that the Scouts of El Salvador now included in initiatives and programmes managed by the department. The First Lady also took the time to meet each of the BP Fellows at the welcome reception during the first evening and to express her admiration for the inspiring Messengers of Peace Initiative.
On the 2nd day of the Field Visit we visited the youth detention centre and had the opportunity to meet and talk with potential candidates for group 2 or 3 of this project (each group consists of max 40 participants). The success of group 1 had already spread fast and those we spoke with really wanted the change to be selected for the next groups. Hearing their stories was an eye-opener and made us realise the potential of this project!
In the afternoon we met with the participants of group 1 and the Rover Scouts working with them (and some of the parents and guardians) while jointly painting a huge wall mural for a community based primary school. The design of the mural was completely made by the participants and you can not imagine how proud they were when they saw theire design become reality. They never had worked as a group together creating something with additional value for their immediate community. There next step is to work in patrols of 8 and to prepare and execute a community service projects in some of the poorest areas of San Salvador.
The third day of the Field Visit was mainly about the celebration of BP Day. After a very interesting visit to a coffee plantation fully managed on the basis of ecological principles we joined around 2'000 Scouts (Cub Scouts, Scouts, Explorers, Rover Scouts and Leaders) to celebrate this special day at the BP roundabout in San Salvador. For many of the Scouts present it was the first time they realised that they belonged to a worldwide movement with over 31 million members!
Please click here to see a selection of pictures taken during the HP Field Visit 2012.