July 2018 Trip News
Jim Patterson and Brad Lunn visited several communities in El Salvador in July. They have a collection of photos to share of their trip. Click here to see photos.
If you are interested in accompanying Jim or Brenda on the next trip to help the beautiful people of El Salvador in January 2019, just send them an email with your contact information and tell them a little bit about yourself and why you’d like to go.
January 2017 Yearly Trip News Update
The objective of the Otra Fe’s board trip was to inspect houses, Lorena stoves, family and community chicken installations, as well as gather information from the four agricultural communities where Otra Fe Canada is assisting with crop production. Also in the itinerary was a fact finding visit to El Limo to assess the potential for the women’s cosmetic project there.
Our itinerary included a visit to the successful women’s run El Refugio Bakery (La Esparanza), talks with Dagoberto Gutierez and Deysi Cheyne at the Lutheran University, and visits to historical sights in San Salvador and Santa Ana, as well as time with Angel (lawyer) and Roxana (Professor) Trijueros.
The group had the opportunity to visit and tour Metapan hospital, and while in El Refugio they interviewed a young woman who works in a factory inspecting t-shirts made for Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.
The below report was written by Brenda Patterson: Board Member and Treasurer of Otra Fe.
We visited homes in Chancuyo, Ahuachapan and El Refugio. We had hoped to have visited many more homes than we did, but due to the culture of visits in communities that we have served this number was limited by time. Of the homes which we visited only one was in disarray and being used more as a warehouse than a home and only one home showed any damage from recusant earthquakes. Felix assured us that the cracks over a door were superficial and of no structural concern. One other house was unoccupied as the woman had moved in with a new partner and the children grown up.
All familial chicken coops were occupied and the owners were continuing with laying hens for eggs and meat, keeping some eggs for hatching to replenish the flocks. The semi commercial coop in Atehecia is progressing at an acceptable rate. Four of the five partners (Fidel, Antonio, Julio, Thomas, absent Mario) were present for our meeting as well as Ana Rosa Campo. The group made a very well organized presentation and tour after which the finances for the daily operations of the coop was presented, including all receipts. The group has organized themselves with officers in charge of different aspects of the operation. They reported that they have had no difficulty selling their product and indeed will need to work on production to meet demands.
In the future they would like to expand the space to include processing space for killing and cleaning birds and also perhaps to sell more birds live either from the facility or in the market. The birds are grown without hormones and are raised in very healthy conditions creating an excellent finished product. As stated earlier, Ana Rosa Ocampo was present for these meetings. She was initially included in the group but due to the distance between her home and the coop she has opted to raise birds separately in a coop on the clinic property in Chancuyo next to her lot.
All but one of the many stoves which we saw had some damage either from earthquakes (chimney collapsed) or from dis or mis use. The one which we saw that was well used and still in good care, had an owner whom was thrilled with her stove and felt that others were simply not using the stoves correctly.
When we questioned her she stated her willingness to help others by doing workshops. It was the feeling of the visiting group that perhaps these workshops should happen prior to any reconstruction activities assuming that if the women were not willing to participate in cooking classes there would be little chance that repairing their stove would be beneficial. The cost per stove would be about $100.00 USD each for new steel chimneys and base repairs. There could be as many as 25 stoves to repair should we choose to do that (could be a group project).
Although we did not specifiably have these on our tour we did make several observation about the yards that we visited. First, the families seemed very concerned about the lack of water, and they were unaware that they could save used water from dishwater, clothing and showers and reuse it for plants. Also, the projects to do with gardening should have a precursor proposing the idea that if the family is unwilling to make that change, they may be unlikely to change habits sufficiently enough to maintain a family garden.
Also, the Metapan project was unsuccessful due to the methodology used (unsupported row planting). Square foot and recycled container gardening, and direct protected planting would perhaps be more successful and less expensive for a project provided that families learned proper composting methods and soil augmentation using coconut shells and crushed corn leaves.
El Limo – Women’s Potential Cosmetic Project
It was the feeling of the group that this project and community of women has a lot of potential.
They are well organized, hard working, and seem to be a cohesive group. This project would be a one time expense, but could have long lasting effects for them and perhaps for us if we can use any of their products here for fundraising.
The eight of the proposed eleven students met with Marjorie and Brenda to discuss expectations for scholarship recipients including record keeping for Felix and Ramon on each student, monthly communication from the students, and community participation.
Alex Sanabria is organizing with the students in Metapan to meet with them weekly to discuss goals, faith, responsibility and respect for self and others. He will help the students to involve themselves in various community-based projects. His hope is that this will enable the youth to overcome the many pitfalls which present themselves daily and help them to reach their goals and become responsible adults.
We would be remiss in ending this report without extending our heartfelt thanks to Felix, Ramon, and Otoniel for their unwavering assistance and support. We are very grateful to them for the expertise and energy which they shared with us. Also to the many men and women in the communities who opened their homes and hearts to us in hospitality and gifts. Thank you to them all.