“To me, it’s important if I want to get involved with a charity, I need to experience what they do,” said Carmen recently. “And this one is all about love and empowerment.”
Established in 2007, Glasswing International works with children facing poverty and extreme violence in some of the most dangerous countries in the world. Its mission is to foster change by investing in a community’s infrastructure and its people, and over the past ten years the San Salvador-based non-profit has extended its reach into 15 Latin American countries and increased its employee count from three to 300.
Glasswing was founded by Celina de Sola, together with her brother Diego, who serves as President and Chairman, and her husband, Ken Baker, CEO. Born in El Salvador with a master’s in public health from Harvard University and a master’s in social work from the University of Pennsylvania, Celina spent many years as a humanitarian aid worker before she felt compelled to return home in order to try and make a difference in Central America. And drawing on her experiences, she saw an opportunity to combine an international perspective with a hands-on, grassroots approach to transform vulnerable communities across the region.
The organization’s work is centered around community engagement, empowering youth and communities to address the root causes of poverty and violence through a variety of dedicated programs. These include education initiatives, designed to keep children from rural and urban communities in school and away from violence, and workforce development programs to help build young people’s life and employability skills. Glasswing also trains health professionals in cost-effective, life-saving techniques tailored to the meet the needs of local communities, and provides opportunities for parents, students, teachers, government officials and corporate employees to train as volunteers, and dedicate their time and expertise.
Many of the children who Glasswing work with lack a sense of safety and stability, and flee their homes or face other life-threatening situations. But despite these challenges, and by harnessing the power of community, Celina and her colleagues provide them with opportunities to thrive and they become part of the solution. Since its inception, over 250,000 children have benefitted from Glasswing’s education initiatives, 16,500 mothers and children have been supported by their paediatric and community health services, 92% of children and young people have reported an improvement in their relationships with peers and family, and 86% an improvement in their self-esteem.
Currently in El Salvador, Carmen has spent time with the children who are being supported by Glasswing, helping to mentor them and instil a spirit of empowerment. She is also joining the organization’s board, will be mentoring Celina and has donated $100,000 to the cause. And not only is she committed to visiting each of the countries the non-profit currently works in, but has her sites set on growth too. “Hopefully, after our Glasswing gala in April we will be able to expand these programs to Latino youth in the USA,” she said.