Crisia is 24 years old and a graduate of YouthBuild El Salvador. She lives with both of her parents and three younger sisters and an older brother who has his own family. Her father works as a handyman, but Crisia only sees him once a week because his job is three hours away from their home. Her home is a rural area with surrounding volcanic hillsides, coffee farms and a scenic view of the nearby Coatepeque lake. Crisia grew in a house made of mud and sticks (bahareque) but over the last three years, thanks to her income, the income from her business and help from her father, the family is putting the finishing touches on cinder block walls and a stronger aluminum roof, and electricity- something that seemed impossible before Crisia joined the YouthBuild program. Crisia´s family still does not have access to water- they purchase it weekly from a water truck that fills a tank, spending about a quarter of their household income on water.
Because Crisia lives in a rural area, in order to go to high school, she had to travel to the nearest city, leaving home at 5:30 a. m. and travel about 30 minutes away to continue her education. Half way through her first year of high school, in 2011, she was forced to drop out. Her home community is controlled by a youth gang but the school she attended is controlled by a rival gang. The gang began to extort her and threaten her life. Despite bringing this to the attention of school authorities, the director of the school recommended that Crisia drop out.
Crisia learned about the YouthBuild program in 2012 and decided to sign up. The program transformed her and her life. Crisia was shy and introverted, not talking to anyone, even her parents. YouthBuild gave her the confidence to find her voice and as a result transformed her relationship with her parents, family and other young people. After completing the program, she started her microenterprise selling natural medicines, which is now a family run business with her mother running it during the week and Crisia managing it on weekends.
The income from her business helped her to complete her high school degree in 2013. Crisia was hired by Fe y Alegria Santa Ana to lead the community service component of the YouthBuild program and has been doing this as part of the US Department of Labor funded project. She has also started her University career and is studying psychology. She has even used her income to help her sister complete her high school degree. Crisia is a volunteer on the Santa Ana Youth Plataforma, a departmental (State) level organization that supports youth programs, and she works with children in her district through the Spanish NGO Ayuda en Acción. Being a part of YouthBuild has been powerful for her because she has seen how the program has helped other youth become leaders and develop a sense of service towards others.
Meet Crisia in the video below:
"My name is Crisia Mendoza. I am 24 years old. I am from El Congo, Santa Ana, El Salvador. One of my places of interest is the Cathedral of Santa Ana as it is a place that helps me feel better when I am sad or when I need to think about things. So it is one of my favorite places."