Success Stories

Customer Review Customer Review

Name: Abencio Mendoza Guzmán

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component

Name of School: Doctor José Antonio Rodríguez Porth School in San Salvador, El Salvador

Estefany lived in a community in which there were two criminal groups. She was able to witness many acts of violence, fights, injuries, and homicides. Estefany made it known that when the G.R.E.A.T. Program arrived at her school, it had a great impact on her. She recalls how she was very naughty to her mother and how she used to treat her little three-year-old brother poorly when she was ten years old. The lessons from the G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component have made her change her vocabulary and not treat her mother and little brother poorly. The program has changed her a lot—she completes her school assignments, passes each grade, helps her mother with chores at home, and cares for her brother. She says “thank you” to her G.R.E.A.T. instructor and for her G.R.E.A.T. Student Handbook.

Name: Cecilia Natali Cruz García

Program: G.R.E.A.T.

Name of School: El Congo School, Unión Centroamericana School and Anselma Sánchez de Mancia School in Santa Ana, El Salvador

The experience that I have had in developing the G.R.E.A.T. Program in the municipality of El Congo, Santa Ana (El Salvador) has been very successful. There, many of the youth were unable to travel to the other schools, for fear of gangs. By means of the G.R.E.A.T. Program, we have been able to make general improvements between the schools. This has allowed the students to coexist and get along well with other students from other schools. It also has improved their ability to travel without fear.

Name: Douglas Antonio Rodríguez Torrente

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component

Name of School: Profesora Ángela de Jesús Hernández de Romero School in Apopa, San Salvador, El Salvador

When I started the G.R.E.A.T. Program, I was met with the disapproval of a student named Kevin. Kevin always had a tendency toward gangs, but as the program progressed, I had the opportunity of watching him take part in the program’s activities, and, as a result, Kevin performed a song about the G.R.E.A.T. Program as part of the program’s project.
I am proud of this great success with Kevin.

Name: Marvin Eduardo Zabras

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component

Name of School: Doctor Darío González School in San Vicente, El Salvador

It is a beautiful experience, watching as the students in the G.R.E.A.T. Program become more aware. There are students who initially oppose the police, but because of the lessons taught during the G.R.E.A.T. Program, the students began to realize that the police were not like they thought they were. By the end of the program, they were appreciative of everything, and that is where I noted such a change in these youth.
This type of program works very well in helping to change the negative thoughts of youth to positive ones.

Name: Melbin Otoniel Medina Ortiz

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component

Name of School: Gustavo Vídes Valdés School in Lourdes, El Salvador

I had a seventh-grade student who was hyperactive, and during the first lesson, he was already distracting everyone. But I moved him to the front row and put him in charge of handing out and collecting the workbooks. In addition, the teacher told me that he was rebellious and had bad grades. However, at the end of the G.R.E.A.T. Program, this young boy was one of the best-behaved in the entire class. One morning before school, I spoke with him and he told me that ever since he was a little boy, his grandmother has raised and educated him because he doesn’t have any parents. Nevertheless, thanks to the efforts of his grandmother and the G.R.E.A.T. Program’s attention to its students, this student has changed his attitude and behavior.

Name: Milton Alfredo García Rivas

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component

Name of School: Ciudad Futura School in Cuscatancingo, Apopa, El Salvador

Marlon, a 13-year-old seventh-grade student, gave me a letter on the day of his G.R.E.A.T. graduation in which it said the following: “Dear G.R.E.A.T. Officer, I want to thank you for dedicating your time to all of us. I want you to know that, before you started sharing the G.R.E.A.T. Program with us, I was a disobedient and very troubled young person. On more than one occasion, I considered joining a gang. However, the lessons that you have taught us during the G.R.E.A.T. Program have made me change my temperament and have made me decide not to join a gang.”

Name: Pricilia Abigail Gómez Melgar

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component

Name of School: Colonia Santa Cruz School in Chalchuapa, Santa Ana, El Salvador

At first, Susana, a seventh-grade student, was skipping school, acting rebellious towards her mother, and hanging out on the streets in her neighborhood with a group of young people who seemed to be using drugs.
During the G.R.E.A.T. Program, Susana initially acted coolly towards the police because apparently, she had been in trouble with the law before. One time, the police had taken her to the police station for hanging out with those troublesome neighborhood youth. As her instructor, instead of isolating her, I approached her, spoke with her, and asked her about her behavior. It so happens that Susana’s behavioral problems were caused by a lack of attention from her mother. Following our conversation, Susana spoke with her mother, and by means of the G.R.E.A.T. middle school lessons, Susana began to change her behavior and her friendships. With the help of her teacher, we involved her more in the G.R.E.A.T. Program. At the end of the program, because Susana was a model student who went to class every day, Susana was elected as class president. In addition, her mother became more involved in all aspects of her life, including giving her more attention. Susana’s mother is very grateful for this program because it has helped her daughter to become a G.R.E.A.T. citizen.

Name: Ricardo Jonatán Alvarado

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component

Name of School: Sacred Heart School in San Miguel, El Salvador

2016—the story of 14-year-old Miss Lazo Reyes. When I arrived at this girl’s school with the G.R.E.A.T. Program, she was the one who, from the beginning, accepted the program because she had heard how G.R.E.A.T. changed its participants and gave them skills for saying “no” to gangs. She told me that all of her uncles were members of the international criminal gang, MS-13. When they found out that she was in the G.R.E.A.T. Program, those uncles who were in prison told her, “Finish your schooling and listen to that police officer. He does not want you to end up in prison or ruin your life like we have done.” Today, this girl is in her first year of high school. She tells me that the G.R.E.A.T. Program taught her so much. According to her, everything that she learned in the G.R.E.A.T. Program is helping her to make better friends, and she has even used some of the refusal methods that she learned during the program. She has also set goals for herself—she wants to graduate with a degree in education in order to be able to help and teach those students who are in need. She writes,
“I used to think that if my uncles were gang members, that wasn’t so bad. I asked my father. He never answered me but instead told me to ask a police officer. My plan was to join a gang. Today, not anymore. I want to be a professional who helps people, like my teacher and my G.R.E.A.T. instructor.”
As a G.R.E.A.T. instructor, it makes me happy that, with the G.R.E.A.T. Program, I have changed the negative course of action that this girl was planning to take. I plan on sharing this program with my son when he is old enough.
Congratulations on such a successful program!

Name: Roselia del Carmen Figueroa

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component

Name of School: Francisco Gavidia School in El Refugio, Ahuachapán, El Salvador

Josefina, a ten-year-old sixth-grade student, began to exhibit poor behaviors at school, but we caught those behaviors early on. We approached the girl, and we asked her what was going on with her and why she didn’t want to participate in the G.R.E.A.T. lessons. It was being investigated whether she was a victim of bullying because her classmates had found out that she was the sister of a gang member. Nevertheless, we kept talking with her and by the second G.R.E.A.T. lesson, she began to change her behavior. She also told us that she wanted someone to talk with her brother because she didn’t want any harm to come to her brother and her family. So I went to visit with her family, and I continued to visit with them. Thank God, Josefina was no longer the target of bullying, and her brother removed himself from those harmful friendships—friendships that were pressuring him to commit crimes. And thank God, today both children are making good grades, are doing very well in school, and have been able to enjoy a close-knit family. They have learned how to make good decisions and how to say “no” to bad things.

Name: Samuel Antonio Pérez Gómez

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Elementary School Component

Name of School: California School in Usulután, El Salvador

It was really nice to take a long walk through the town of California, where students from kindergarten, students from first to ninth grade, high school students, teachers, parents, and a previous G.R.E.A.T. instructor were all involved in the G.R.E.A.T. Program. We held an inauguration event at the school, as well as several folk festivals. There were 81 children who participated in these events, and three of these students had special needs. It was wonderful to watch as the others helped these three children. When I told the students that they would be graduating from the G.R.E.A.T. Program on September 12, 2017, everyone was very happy. I requested some assistance from city hall officials, and they provided snacks for the children as we celebrated their graduation from the program. We also celebrated with a piñata breaking. The teachers congratulated me, and they hope that I will continue teaching this program in the upcoming year.

Name: Tulio Alejandro Chavarría Arguera

Program: G.R.E.A.T. Middle School Component

Name of School: Cantón Salinas del Potrero School in Usulután, El Salvador

Rutilio, a seventh-grade student, had intentions of dropping out of school because there was a group of young, like-minded gang supporters who were trying to pressure him into joining a gang. The other problem was that he could hardly read, so he was apathetic about participating in group activities. However, thanks to the G.R.E.A.T. Program that was being taught at that school, the young Rutilio chose to continue with his studies, and he completed the seventh grade with good grades. He was even given a medal of excellence for improving his grades. He also greatly improved his reading skills, which led to increased group participation, and he was even the first one to raise his hand when I asked for volunteers during the lessons. Likewise, on the day of the G.R.E.A.T. Program graduation, I gave Rutilio a medal of excellence for his enthusiasm and increased participation during the program.