David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Monday, February 16, 2015

Project updates

We recently wrote about the excitement at the public school and also the projects funded by our major grant from the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. This grant continues to offer many blessing to the brothers and sisters in the east. Now we have news from our partner Oikos Solidaridad as it implements Phase 2 of the Community Development Grant. Phase 2 includes sending students who completed high school to attend Technical/Vocational training. Since few students in this area complete high school, the pastors were unsure they could find ten. On Monday (February 9), five young men and five young women started classes at the technical institute in the east. These are from families we met in 2009 who asked for our help to provide education for their children. In 2009 we were not prepared to meet these needs; it was not a part of our mission work while serving in El Salvador. But we did listen and we learned from them of their hopes – for themselves, their families, their communities. Before we realized it, we were developing an assessment of the community. We documented what we heard and learned. Five years later an opportunity presented itself; we took a risk and wrote a grant. Now we are in the process of implementing life changing opportunities for generations. Our project partner Oikos has negotiated a contract with the institute to secure special arrangements for these students. Oikos holds the 10 student positions and has filled them with students recommended by the participating pastors. This contract provides the beneficiaries with additional flexibility; in case a student leaves the program, another can be selected. This is a practical and unusual plan to enhance this education opportunity. The students’ families are also providing an investment in their children by contributing transportation and lunch money for their student. This is a substantial commitment by these poor families. It is very important to keep these students in prayer as bus rides and school settings are points of danger due to the gang activity rampant in El Salvador. When we return in March, we are eager to visit the sites and the beneficiaries of the chicken-raising project and to meet the new students and their families. We will also have a gathering with Oikos and the pastors where they have asked for time to discuss new ideas they have. We look forward to their energy and future vision. David y Nancy