David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Computers & Jobs

We mentioned the difficulty with immigration upon our return from Easter break. We were told we could not leave El Salvador. What does that mean? The agent not only got our attention, but also motivated us into action. The following week, we traveled 90 miles to visit immigration to resolve our illegal status.

After our first visit that included more implied threats, we sent a letter to immigration asking for a five month extension to our residency. Immigration responded to Stephen, our VMM field rep that the reply was ready to be picked up at the immigration office. We again traveled the 2 hour trip to San Salvador and were given a form letter informing us we are illegal and must begin the residency process. But without instructions as to what was required. The first time we applied for residency was a trial and error process that took 5 months to complete; now our immediate concern is leaving July 14 for R&R.

Stephen and the local immigration coordinator addressed our departure issue; in fact the coordinator advised how to remain here, not get caught and leave the country on July 14. This situation must be more common than we thought. The blustering of the agents is theater. When you’re at the airport just steps from freedom, paying any fine they impose is worth the cost.

Since the trip to San Salvador is long and expensive, we try to include other stops and errands. This time we visited a Rotary project, a partnership between the Palo Alto Rotary Club and Club Rotario de San Salvador. Club Rotario de San Salvador is our project partner in Nejapa. Rotary Clubs address many humanitarian issues, but also focus on economic development. This project reconditions computers that are fully Micro-Soft licensed for schools, students, church groups and new business startups. It also provides two jobs, one is the reconditioning technician and one is the warehouse sales person.

The mountain school of Alambre has more students than computer time available and classes are six days a week. This is the only computer training offered in the region and the computer students are the 7th, 8th and 9th graders from this central school and from the local high school.

Principal Walter asked us for 5 computers and in turn we asked what direct impact these computers will have in the communities. Walter replied the students pay a monthly for this computer class. The money pays the instructors salary. With additional computers and more students, this is can become a full time secure position.

The national school curriculum here in the East does not support the purchase of computers or teachers salary for computer education. Any computers in public schools have been donated. We are currently soliciting funding for the purchase of computers.

We continue our effort to raise funds for more desks at this school so students do not have to sit on the floor or stand along the wall. We will pursue this need while we are home in July/August also.

While we should be in the early stages of wrapping up our mission, it seems we have a gift of connecting the “dots” of needs and opportunities. We will continue to use this gift as long as we can for the good of the people of El Salvador.

David y Nancy