My name is Eneyda, I am a Debate Club volunteer. For five years, I was also a participant of the same club. Today, I live in San Salvador and study law at one of El Salvador’s best universities. But life wasn’t always this way. When I think about my experience as a student in the clubs, I realize it was the beginning of my life as I know it today. I don’t know what my life would have been like had I not been at the right place at the right time.
When I was 13 years old, I had problems with alcohol. I used to live in Ilobasco with my grandmother and go to school there. I went to school in the morning and, in the afternoon, I would go out with my friends. Every day, I would party more and more — it was getting excessive — and I could no longer control myself. My grades were dropping fast and I was putting my life at risk. As a result of all this, I was threatened and had to return to San Salvador. Leaving alcohol has been one of the most difficult things in my life. I was drinking hard liquor every day, and I had to stop.
I returned to my community when I was in eighth grade and quickly enrolled in the local public school. It was a new beginning for me. During my first few months, everything was the same as before and, at times, more difficult. But this school had the after-school program and I eventually joined the Debate Club. I was engaged and I was learning. My grades started to improve, I went from having a 5/10 to a 9/10 which was something positive, but it led to a lot of bullying. People started to see me as “the nerd”. One time, someone even peed on my bag and put a broom in my backpack — I was suffering a lot. But during all of this, I felt the Debate Club was there to support me. My volunteer and my clubmates encouraged me to keep moving forward when others didn’t.
Debate changed my life. I see myself in two ways: the before Eneyda and the Eneyda I am today. Debate presented me with an opportunity to save my life. I remember that I was so hurt and spent a lot of my time focusing on that pain. But participating in the club taught me to work on myself, to improve and to defend myself, to see that things aren’t always as they seem. I learned the skills I needed to move on.
I ended up graduating with honors, I was named champion in many Debate Tournaments. It’s been three years since I started volunteering. I did this because I want to inspire the children in my community. I want them to have the same opportunities that I had, that hope, and the change I needed to get along. They know, just like I did, that the clubs have come to mark their lives. I know a lot of them have already changed their lives completely.