Working on a Dream, Salvadoran Style

Nixon and Alejandro are working on a dream — a dream far more difficult than anything you and I have ever endeavored.

Eight years ago I started sponsoring a child through Compassion International. Hellen and I correspond several times a year. I love hearing how her life is blossoming. And it’s incredible what a decent monetary gift can give to her and her family. One year we sent $250. She wrote back that she bought a bed, shoes, a pair of jeans; her mom bought a cow and a goat, and they sent her grandmother to hospital. All for what amounted to one month on my iPhone service.

alejandro-and-nixon-talk Three years ago I got to travel to El Salvador with Compassion to see how the program works. It was an amazing experience; the kind that makes you ask yourself, ‘why do I ever complain about anything?!’ I also met two young men who are getting put through college, thanks to Compassion’s Leadership Development Program.

Nixon and Alejandro are cousins, but they call themselves brothers. Their mothers are very close, and they grew up as brothers. When I met them, they’d just found out they were going to university! Nixon is studying computer science and Alejandro’s studying business. At university. These are kids who grew up in the kind of poverty you’d never imagine here.

I keep in touch with Nixon and Alej on Facebook. A while went by and I hadn’t heard from Alej. Turned out his computer hard drive had died. I was able to send a hard drive to him and a friend installed it. But a few months passed and the screen died. Probably logic board failure. He’s been using Nixon’s computer to get his school work done. But Nixon’s computer is in bad shape, too. Several keys are missing, his trackpad is busted, etc etc.

So I’m looking into donating money to their accounts so they can get new computers. I got curious as to how much a computer would cost there — real and relative costs.

The median income in El Salvador is $3800 a year. The median income in the US is $50,000 a year. That’s 7.6% of ours. or .076

Cost of living in El Salvador: only 51% of the cost of living in New York City. Further, per a travel blog I found, the costs of goods like computers are 10 to 30% MORE than what you’d pay here.

So, say I bought a Macbook in the US for $1,000. That’s 1/50 of the annual US income

The same Macbook in ES would cost about $1,200, or ONE THIRD of a Salvadoran’s annual income.

Imagine paying one third of your year’s salary for a Mac, or $16,000?


The Journal of Political Economy published a paper showing that child sponsorship programs are effective; and Charity Watch rated Compassion as one of the top-rated programs. But I don’t need to read a paper or statistics. I know Hellen in Kenya, and Alej and Nixon in El Salvador.

If you’d like to know more about Compassion or you’re interested in sponsoring a child, please click on the image in the right bar. Or just click here and find out more.

And you can read all about Nixon and Alejandro here

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