El Salvador

Population facets: 


Partner Organization:  FUSAL (Fundacion Salvadorena Para La Salud y el Desarrollo Humano)

Location:  San Julian, El Salvador

Number of Students:  2 students

Dates:  Flexible but must also factor availability and schedule of site mentor.  Typical U.S. departure has been during the third or fourth week of May.

Participation Requirements:

  • Language & Proficiency Requirement:  Strong proficiency in Spanish required.
  • Gender Requirement:  None
  • Required Experience:  Interest in public health and healthcare necessary.  Experience in basic medical skills (i.e. EMT certified, blood pressures, vital signs, measurements, etc.) is recommended but not necessary. 
  • Major Requirement:  Open to ALPP or SCPP pre-med, science majors, or healthcare related majors (public health, nutrition, etc.)
  • Student Minimum Age:  None
  • Special Requirements:  Interest in the history of El Salvador and Central America especially the political and religious dimensions including memory and martyrdom.
  • Other:  None

Special Training Required Prior to Summer Deployment: (The following sessions and workshops will be organized and provided by the ISSLP during the spring semester. Additional training sessions may be added as needed)

  • Red Cross Certification
  • Self Defense

Site Description:  

See the official FUSAL website: www.fusal.org

FUSAL is a non-governmental organization dedicated to supporting human development programs with active community participation aiming to improve the quality of life of all Salvadorans through health care and education.  Their aim is to improve the quality of life for poor Salvadorans through health education and the provision of medical material aid to over 250 partner health outposts, clinics, and hospitals.

Scope of Work & Responsibilities:

Notice: Scope of work may have some changes based on the needs of the partner organizations at the time of student arrival.   

Students generally begin their ISSLP in the capital city of San Salvador for a few days of orientation on Salvadoran history and culture with an American journalist who has been residing in El Salvador for decades and serves as the program’s site mentor. 

ISSLP students have worked in the past in two projects , Libras de Amor and CASSA (Campañia Azucarera Salvadoreña – a private entity that works in conjunction with FUSAL). Libras de Amor is a nutrition program that works with children under 5 years old and pregnant women.  Located in 6 different locations in El Salvador and continuing to expand, Libras de Amor provides basic nutrition education and food assistance to rural and poverty-stricken communities.  In past years, Libras de Amor included basic health check-ups but this aspect was undergoing re-evaluation in 2011.  In the previous Libras de Amor constitution, students would accompany the Salvadoran medical teams (consisting of a doctor, nurse, and nutritionist) to outlaying villages and assist in their daily routine which includes loading and unloading the supplies; transcribing attendance lists; filling, explaining, administering prescriptions provided by the medical professionals; assist in basic examination procedures (vital signs; blood pressures; height, weight, cephalic measurements; listening to internal sounds, etc.); plotting and completing growth charts; shadow during prenatal and postnatal checkups and nutritional analyses; and contribute to discussions with the mothers about public health topics.  Moreover, students assisted in the educational activities of the team, which include dynamic games and information sessions, and organize the distribution of medicine and food supplies to the families.  It remains to be seen whether Libras de Amor will continue to provide basic health check-ups as part of its programming.  At minimum, students may continue to be responsible for measuring height and weight of children and recording basic information of the families participating.

Students may also accompany medical team members on house calls, nutritional visits, organization-wide events such as conferences and health fairs, and help to administer public health surveys.  In more recent years, students have split time working between two communities, San Julian and Santa Ana. 

In 2011,  2012, 2013 and 2014 students worked with CASSA healthcare teams (contracted by FUSAL) where they assisted in physical examinations, shadowing doctors and nurses, writing prescriptions, measuring and recording children’s height and weight, cooking demonstrations and health education, distributing micronutrients, assessing and referring patients to the doctor or nutritionist, interviewing patients and filling out medical forms, organizing community volunteers, and generally assisting patients with their needs.  During the summer 2015, students performed similar work with Libras de Amor health team in San Julian and attended some home visits and follow ups with families.

It is expected that during the summer 2017, students continue working with CASSA and healthcare teams and any other project assigned by FUSAL in San Julian.

Aside from the public health aspect, students also spend every other weekend with the program’s site mentor, Mr. Gene Palumbo, an American journalist who has been living in El Salvador for almost 30 years.  He and his wife, Guadalupe, provide the students with the historical, economic, and political background of the country by setting up several visits with individuals and communities who have been affected by poverty due to current social and political issues.  

Housing & Lodging Information:

In San Julian, students live by the governmental clinic in a house with bedrooms divided by gender The rooms are shared during the weekdays with some of the FUSAL team members. There is a 24/7 security guard in the clinic, who also provides security for the house. Grocery shopping and cooking meals are the responsibility of the students, although they will often share these responsibilities with the team. The FUSAL staff members working in the CASSA project usually travel to visit their families during the weekends. Medical personnel on duty, as well as the security guard, stay through the weekends.

The weekends the students spend in San Julian are an opportunity for them to better know  and interact more with the community members from San Julian. Often times, during these weekends, the students get invitations to visit some of the FUSAL member’s families.

Over the weekends spent with Mr. Palumbo in San Salvador, students typically stay at the Centro Loyola retreat house.  Students can take meals at the retreat house or choose to eat out.  Some lunches are provided when visiting communities.

For More Information:

Visit the official FUSAL website: www.fusal.org

Former ISSLP Participants:

Marco Lorico-Rappa‘ 17 (ISSLP 2015), Marco.Lorico-Rappa.1@nd.edu

Notice: Certain sites may be canceled and other sites added at any point during the selection and orientation process.