From Hard Times to Father Figure
Having lived through difficult experiences on his own, Oscar is much more than just a teacher to his students at NPH El Salvador.
September 20, 2019 - El Salvador
Oscar graduated as a social studies teacher from Universidad Nacional de El Salvador (National University) in 2007. He is a single father of an adorable five-year-old boy, who he dotes on. But being single parent has not always been easy for Oscar, especially when he was unemployed. To say it’s been tough is an understatement.
Straight out of university, Oscar landed a job, but in 2012, he found himself unemployed. For three years, the 38 year-old from the city of Santa Ana struggled to make ends meet and support his son, doing a range of informal jobs, such as selling fruit and vegetables in the street. Unemployment is rife in El Salvador, especially among the younger generations. According to a census conducted in 2018 by the Salvadoran government department of statistics DIGESTYC, 6.3% of the 6.45 million population is unemployed, with youth unemployment (ages 16 to 24) at 13.6%. What’s worse, the government offers little or no income support to job seekers, leaving young people to seek employment through sometimes desperate means.
Oscar’s luck was tough, but he never gave up. Moreover, what he didn’t know was this period of difficulty would serve as a great teaching tool for his students in the near future. In 2015—he did it! — he joined the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos family doing something he loves to do: teach!
Oscar is now the eighth grade teacher at the NPH El Salvador school. His class consists of 16 students, 11 of whom are pequeños living in Casa Sagrada Familia where the school is based, while the remaining five pupils are community students from the surrounding towns and villages. In recent years, Oscar feels his perception of a teacher’s role has evolved. As well as imparting knowledge of a subject, he also looks for every opportunity to guide his students and give advice.
“Working at NPH, it feels like you go beyond your role as a teacher. It is more like being a father figure for the students. In my own experience, the concept I had of teaching changed when I got to know the work that is done here. One becomes more than a person in front of a class of students; one shares time and experiences with young people which creates a special connection,” says Oscar.
“I was amazed when I found out the kind of students I had. Some of them shared their life experiences with me and, as a father, it makes me feel very sad that they had to live through such situations. I try to share my own experiences with them so they are aware that even though there might be difficult moments in life, it is up to us to keep fighting for our dreams.”
Oscar says that when he first read about Father Wasson’s philosophy, he was able to understand the kind of job he would have to carry out, “Learning about the work of Father Wasson motivated me to do my best in my job, in order to make a difference to my student’s lives. When one learns about the work done at NPH, one realizes that it is not just a job; it is a family and one becomes part of it.”
“Every day is a new adventure. I start a day of classes with a prayer and I try to include different activities in my lessons, such has watching videos about the realities in our country, so students learn to appreciate the support they receive at NPH. I explain that the realities of life might be tough; I don’t get tired of giving them advice because I know it will help them in the future.”
Oscar believes his job at NPH differs from his previous jobs, as he gets to know his students on a deeper level and be part of their lives. At previous schools where he worked, he didn’t have these kinds of connection with his pupils. “Teaching at NPH has definitely changed my life because I get to do what I like and I get to do it with students that I consider my own family.”
Education is one of the key values of NPH. Having teachers like Oscar gives students a strong base from which to launch, especially as he puts his heart into his job. And thanks to his experience, students can reap the benefits from his advice.
Interested in learning more about education at NPH El Salvador? Learn about our ABC program that helps students build on their life skills.