Currently, the Exodo Foundation takes care of 46 children ages range between 4 and 18 years old.
Our children come from all over El Salvador. Some of our children are parentless, and others have been brought in by the police due to severe neglect and abuse in the home. Often, these parents carry out unhealthy and dangerous lifestyles, such as, prostitution, drug and alcohol addiction which increases the chances of child neglect, abuse, and abandonment. Unfortunately, some of these parents are currently serving jail time.
When the Children arrive to the Exodo Home they are often in unbearable and unsanitary conditions, such as, emotionally broken, fearful, parasitic bellies, hair lice, and other illnesses. In addition, many of the children have never attended school.
Our experience has correlated with the reports of UNICEF, which is that the abandonment, mistreatment, and abuse of infants have a devastating impact on the psyche of these children. The devastating psychological impacts can manifest in various forms, such as, the following:
- Anxiety/attention deficit disorders, depression, low self esteem.
- Social withdrawal, lack of empathy, aggression, criminal behaviors.
- Early sexualized behaviors in children and / or promiscuity.
The development in the cognitive, linguistic and social level has been delayed, so that their academic performance has been affected. The children can have difficulties completing their academic work, as they lack initiative, and are always overly dependent on assistance, and approval by the teacher.
The care needed to completely restore the lives of these children can be complex and goes far beyond providing food and shelter, which requires many areas of attention:
Our children have emotional wounds that only the Lord can heal. The children often hold a lot of anger and resentment towards the people who who have hurt them, and it is essential that the we teach the children the power of forgiving them. Since many of the children are fearful and insecure assisting them in overcoming these problems can require countless hours of praying and counseling. We strongly believe that with the help of our Lord and professional counselors our children will be able to overcome all psychological damage.
Trained substitute parents (foster parents) take care of the children in each house 24/7. Each foster parent provides a loving and stable environment, reinforces rules, and disciples through positive reinforcements which meets each child’s basic emotional needs. We strive to provide the children a home that they can call their own, and where their foster parents can model relationships as in a normal family.
All of our children undergo medical and dental checkups to assess their physical and oral health. Once a year our children receive their yearly physical assessments where they undergo tests to diagnose or prevent common illnesses, such as, parasites or common cold. In addition, each child is provided with an as needed doctor’s visit through out the year. We closely monitoring each house to verify that the foster parents are carrying out their duties by providing a clean and pleasant environment in order to promote the health of all and prevent illnesses.
Education is one of our top priorities in the home, we strongly believe that education is the key ingredient that will change the future of our children and this country. Education can break the cycle of violence and poverty in our children. Our children attend a private school where they receive quality and excellent education. Unfortunately, El Salvador’s public education can expose our children to gangs and violence, so we strive to always provide a safe environment for our children at all times.
Due to our children’s unfortunate backgrounds some of our children have developmental delays. We provide additional support, like, speech therapy, tutoring, and counseling. Our children are taken into the city where they can access these therapies through qualified psychologist and specialist who volunteer their time. Thanks to our psychologist and specialist our children have been able to overcome their limitations.
In addition, for some of the children that have never attended school they are provided with homeschool by two full-time teachers that work at the Exodo Home. They work with them in a personalized way to help them catch up to their grade level, and eventually integrate them back into a normal school system.
Children who show special interest are provided with guitar lessons, English lessons, Aikido (marc
ial arts), Soccer training and more.
Transitional Program or Conquerors Program
When our children turn the legal adult age of 18, they will need to continue their vocational or professional education, so they are still provided with a house to live in while they prepare to leave the Exodo Home. We have two transitional houses for boy and girls. The “transitional kids,” as we call them start working on our Conquerors Program, learning life skills, study a vocational training, study at the university and/or work at the same time, until they are ready to graduate. Our transitional kids are required to show responsibility, and live independently with out a foster parent in the house. As they demonstrate that they are responsible the Exodo foundation will continue to provide support or scholarships.
Emotional Health Program
All children separated from their parents for whatever reason have serious emotional issues that must be addressed at the level of individual therapy and group therapy. Therefore a christian psychologist closely works with our children to address their emotional wounds, like, pain, anger, guilt and other harmful emotions derived from the neglect, physical and/or sexual abuse that they have suffered. Forgiveness is the ultimate goal to achieve.