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Peace through the Arts

CAP is healing space for youth carrying war trauma, now deeply challenged by gang violence and number returning as migrants with new wounds.

Photo of Margaret O'Neill
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Geography of focus (500 characters)

We are in El salvador, C.A. and all of the people in our city were forced to live in refugee camps in Honduras or shelters in other parts of our country. This city was attacked for 12 years with saturation bombing and many massacres of civilians. Many scars still remain and healing takes a long time. Youth never received attention to their memories of sadness or loss. They wore shame and had very few options,so many migrated illegally. CAP helps self esteem, opens imaginations.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

We build bridges between the urban section with our 86 rural communities Our youth realize that despite all they carry from the war they can still discover they have gifts to give and talents to enjoy and share. Given opportunities they and their parents see: talents emerging, joy expressed and self esteem realized. We bridge the rural and urban populations as all of us see that music and art open the desire to ensure that we all learn to deal CREATIVELY with the gift of being human.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

We contribute to the need to realize we are all connected. There are no strangers We are all searching and need to be aware that we can only live in peace if we are living in solidarity. Music and art is the vehicle to enable us to touch the life force within us. and within everything. Listening to different sounds, seeing the withinness of everything that is alive unites and cements our desires to care for each other and everything living thing. Together and in harmony we are creating a new Suchitoto, a new El Salvador and a new Planet.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

We are looking for a way to have this 12 years of CAP flourish. The continued programs will be financed by more self sustaining projects. Knowing our own story helps us see beyond the recent scars of war .Our community museum, our compositions/exhibitions of art, our concerts will continue to gather to celebrate. Drama tells all of our stories and the social conditions that must be changed. We need to continue to teach through the arts so that the whole person is engaged. The Chapel of the World, our Performing Art Center belongs to everyone. This space we are hoping to renovate will save us from forgetting our patrimony and help us integrate youth, parents and tourists, at cultural events We know that we ourselves need to look for ways to sustain this school and space rental was how we started and have expanded. We do rely heavily on donations and most come from friends in the United States. We know many Projects die because they cannot continue to expect help from outside .

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Members of our municipality have strong allegiances still with the political sides of the civil war. The people were enslaved economically on large haciendas and had no access to schools, health care, or even the right to own their own land. The people in our urban areas were living with different access to education and health and were paid for the services given to the hacienda owners. We see very clearly that war divides. We hope Music /Art unites. Healing happens slowly and takes a long time both personally and socially. Agriculture is the main income of 65% of our people. Small farms cannot survive without cooperation and solidarity. We must return to organic methods. Our earth needs time to breathe from the poisons and we need to see this connecting to the planet's needs. There are no jobs in the town apart from service. Scholarships have afforded youth to go to university Music and art have touched hope/confidence..We want youth to stay to stay here and live a full life.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

People love to eat in our cafe because prices are not for tourists and they know every plate helps to build our school. They have friends who visit use our hostel, visit our museum, celebrate birthdays, in our salas, weddings, baptisms. We are seen as a gift to Suchitoto and our people keep up our mission. We Already we have built some of our spaces with help from people who fled to other countries during the war and return to live here or visit. They

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

We have already received more than $749,059.30 for the chapel renovation to help continue this project. The Ministry of Culture already gave us $50,000 and donated some instruments This sign of trust boosts others as well. We have served 318, 395 persona and they have ignited hope and joy realizing our mission and want to see us as a symbol for others here in El Salvador. Our Ministry of Education has used our vision in their teacher preparation. We have been the host for MUSICIANS without borders and SOY MUSICA of Holland . Our property was abandoned for 25 years and it was built in 1840 and then the school was added in 1914. We have revived post war and people are proud of CAP as they see peace is possible.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

Our museum was part of a project of IAF ( inter american foundation). The part of the chapel that will be a mediateca the extension of the museum, is approved by them but the project is FROZEN because of the USA boycott of the Northern Triangle. We have all of the architectural plans and are in need of the electrical work to be done as well as the flooring and illumination. Various Rotary clubs have helped with this media teca as well. All of the other money has gone to classes and programs. We have received the study for solar energy and will be looking for a donor as well to help alleviate our electric bill each month. Our classes of computers and use of buildings demand we look to alternatives as well as our concern for the planet.. Many big institutions will not help with construction and that has impeded our asking. Our construction needs were great post war. We purchased the property for $350,000 again paid by small donations and added new areas also costing $300,00.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Product: A new or enhanced physical product that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Majority Adoption: We have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base (i.e. 50% to 83% of the target population or 50,000 to 1,000,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

Associacion de Desarollo Local Centro Arte para la Paz

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

I described in an attachment above the general description of this question. We are a community that suffered massacres forcing us to flee to refugee camps in Honduras. Enduring 12 long years of war that cost 75,000 deaths we returned to Suchitoto to rebuild our lives with help from churches and internationals. After 12 years of rebuilding materially and institutionally it was clear that the trauma of war was deeply imbedded in all of us. Women's organizations started to help with literacy but attached with the focus on women and healing the trauma. Twelve years ago we saw this need for the youth who were born after the war but were so affected by the stories of sadness, pain and loss. Their memories weighed heavily and some sought to leave illegally in the face of sustained poverty. It became clear that we needed to get at the roots of their distress, their sadness and lack of hope. We decided to rebuild an abandoned school and focus on building PEACE through the ARTS

Website URL:


Type of submitter

  • Other

Organization Headquarters: Country

We are a registered Local Association in Suchitoto. We are non-profit. We elect a Board and have 44 associates. formally attached

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Suchitoto, Barrio San Jose Department Cuscatlan El Salvador, C. A.

Attachments (1)

Grant request, CAP (2).docx

This gives the history of our war torn town and our victories over the years looking to build a culture of peace both personal and social.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Sevde Şengün

Hello Margaret O'Neill great to have your idea on the platform for the challenge. It's exciting and I really like your idea's touchpoints and your visuals! As the ideas phase comes to an end within few hours, we would encourage you to again have a last look at the evaluation criteria here:
Also, it will be exciting for your to check out other ideas on the platform, provide some feedback and explore potential areas of collaboration with them. For example check out the Bridge to a Better Life :