|Location:||Perquín, San Fernando and Torola, Morazán, El Salvador|
The Salvadorian partners began this scholarship fund in 2005 to pave a way for youth to become the community leaders of tomorrow. The program was founded by Padre Rogelio Ponseele, a local leader, activist and cleric.to the community. He in turn sought support from the *Comunidades Eclesiásticas de Base de El Salvador or Christian Base Communities of El Salvador (CEBES) in Perquin and communities in Belgium, his country of origin.
In 2016 the scholarship fund was expanded under the name of Jose Garcia, a Salvadorian refugee to Canada. Jose brought his family to Canada in 1984 to escape the long and brutal civil war to provide them with opportunities like education. Jose or as he preferred “Meme,” was born into a poor Salvadoran family. As a child, he was given away and then moved from family to family to provide manual labor. He received his early education while watching his classmates from outside the classroom because he did not own the shoes he needed to enter the school. Nevertheless, he loved learning and persisted in getting an education until he earned the qualification of an accountant in a bank.
To those who knew him, Jose taught the truest sense of living in community. He became a pillar of the Christian base community movement in El Salvador and Edmonton. Like a prophet, Jose was faithful to his commitment as a Christian. He lived intentionally for his community and felt himself to be a brother to all in every sense. This meant that he was faithful to the teaching of our martyrs of El Salvador and to the belief that true community involves living with a preferential option for the poor.
His spoken and written words were of somebody who knew what he wanted to say and he never needed to look for them. His words were simple yet profound. He believed without boastfulness that he was a brother to anyone looking for one. He believed it was his duty to be in solidarity with the poor and suffering.
Jose loved learning his entire life. He read and learned from others and he found time to teach anyone who was struggling in school
Jose’s family remains close to projects he loved to support in El Salvador. In 2016 while visiting the state of Morazan and Padre Rogelio they learned of the community effort to support local youth to complete post-secondary education and help them become leaders in the community. This scholarship program was short of funds. The family decided that it would be an honor to keep the legacy of Jose alive by contributing to the scholarship program.
At the present, the program supports ten students who are in the process of obtaining degrees in business administration, child education, accounting, civil law and engineering. Students are the children of ex-combatants and youth coming from disintegrated homes due to immigration, family violence and other social problem. All students are without the economic means to access higher education.
We have met with the young benefactors of this program and can attest to their personal development and ongoing contribution and commitment to their communities. Graduates have now formed the Association for the Promotion and Development CEBES Perquin to help sustain the scholarship program for the next generation of students.