Feb. 18, 2019 – West Bend, WI – Our January 2019 journey began in a memorable way. After missed connections, lost luggage and wearing the same clothes for three days, we finally settled in to our time in El Salvador. We were accompanied by Judy Steffes, a freelance journalist who also publishes the WashingtonCountyInsider.com.
With losing a day, we rearranged our schedule allowing Judy the opportunity to learn the culture, people, and environment so as she meets people she would be able to better identify with them.
On Wednesday we met with the leaders of Habitat for Humanity of El Salvador. Our purpose is to understand the scope of a pending build in our Sister Parish Community of Fe y Esperanza. HFH has asked us to fund raise for this event and frankly we are seeking more information for sharing with potential donors.
After our breakfast meeting we went to Fe to meet the community and visit some homes. Some of our members live in barracks at the former refugee camp. The HFH team upon entering these buildings immediately stated these are not habitable. HFH El Salvador requires the candidate to have a clear title to a lot before they qualify for HFH loan, for either repairing or building a home. Our challenge is how to help these families buy lots so they qualify for a loan/build.
The next day we traveled to the Far East to revisit the women’s chicken project, hot houses and the hardware store we started in 2011. Highway 2 is under construction to make the two lane highway into four lanes. The detours were dangerous and difficult to drive during the day and much worse at night. The drive was often terrifying.
The women greeted us, showing the latest coops and letting us know they need 10 more. Other developments included the women now producing chicks rather than buying them. One woman told us the income she makes from her project. It’s impressive, making this another very successful project that is managed by Oikos.
After this meeting we left the women of the volcano and headed to the lagoon. This is a very important wet land as many of our Midwest birds migrate though this lagoon. The local people have tried to make a living fishing and also to protect it from pollutants. With modest income from the lagoon, Oikos recommended they turn to agriculture with construction of two new hot houses. They are full of sweet and tasty Chile pepper plants, creating more income.
Our last stop of the day was a visit to the hardware store in the community where we lived.
Whether it’s a local Ace Hardware store or Fleet Farm, I (David) love hardware stores. This income creation project in 2011 has grown with two more locations and has provided many jobs and scholarships for the youth of the churches in which we served. It was a good home-coming, greeting many friends before heading back to San Salvador on highway 2.
On Friday it’s Rotary Day to deliver text books to the public school from a grant from District 6270 through Nancy’s Sunrise Rotary Club. This is school number seven that we are rebuilding and invigorating.
In the past year, three separate classrooms were developed by building two dividers in an open hall. Computers were installed and being used; supplies of pencils, paper, art materials were donated and now text books for all grades and students. Our project partners also distributed backpacks to all the children. Construction of the new healthy kitchen continued while we were there with the sounds of celebrations joining with pounding and sawing on the new lunch facility.
After this joyful morning, we met with the high school students who received scholarships. To backup for a moment, over four years we developed and funded the creation of the grades 7, 8, and 9 at a community public school. When the 41 students graduated from the 9th grade, 15 could not afford to attend high school. We found sponsors for them and they attended the local high school.
Two dropped out with need to work to help support their families, four completed their two year program and the remainder are completing their third year of high school in 2019. Many of their report cards are marked “superior”. All did very well. Two of the boys now rank number 1 and number 3 in their high school studies.
A little bit of encouragement and support, even from a distance, goes a long way to change a life.
David y Nancy
Click HERE to read more stories about the Slindes’ 10-day mission trip to El Salvador.