El Salvador gallery pictures changed lives

Can $80 change a life?  The McClelland Art Gallery is displaying pictures from the overseas humanitarian project Union College participated in over the summer. Running through Oct. 10, the display depicts the impact $80 can make—the cost of teaching someone to read.  An individual’s education can change the future of entire families.

In the cities of El Salvador, an average of 25 percent of the population cannot read or write; outside of the city the illiteracy rate doubles. The uneducated are often charged too much or given back too little at food markets, stores and banks without being able to prove or even realize they have been cheated.

These literacy projects, implemented by Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Hope for Humanity and the Adventist Intercollegiate Association (AIA) teach people about simple hygiene and how to read and write. 

“By just educating the mother the status, health aid, and education of a family goes up,” said Dr. Linda Becker, vice president for student services. “If the mother goes to school the kids are more likely to go, increasing quality of life for years to come.”

It only costs $80 to educate someone for two years. They graduate with a reading comprehension level equivalent to a sixth grader, and increased benefits from job opportunities, income and quality of life.

The gallery presents pictures taken in El Salvador when Becker and her husband Tom, director of information systems, and Phil Thompson, senior business administration major and ASB president, aided with the project.

“This project is not only a great evangelistic tool,” said Thompson, “but also facilitates people that are struggling with basic needs. The literacy projects do change lives.”

Union’s goal is to raise $7,000 with the help of matching funds from Hope for Humanity. There is a jar in the gallery for donations, or contributions can be made through Judy Joiner in Student Services. Special events are being planned throughout the year to raise money for these literacy projects.