Saturday, November 14, 2015
Its midway into November and the rains continue. What is good for one crop is not good for another. Sugar cane doesn’t need more rain, it needs to grow and produce more sugar.
We are at a sugar cane finca today to learn about the process. Cane is still harvested by hand; if the cane is not burned in the fields, gathering is an itchy activity for the workers. The 8 foot cane is stripped and cut into 3 or 4 pieces. The pieces are fed into a grinder (top photo with a stalk shown for an example). The pulp coming from the grinder is fed onto a conveyor and into a large hot tank where it is heated until the sugar is liquid. As a gravity-fed process, the liquid passes through 3 more very hot stainless steel tanks where impurities are filtered out at each tank.
The contents at the last and lowest tank are drained into a stainless steel cart and wheeled into the molding room (last photo). In the molding room, Francisco pours the liquid sugar into wooden molds using the little shovel sitting on the table. Francisco levels the molds with the wooden pallet (notice his hand), clearing excess sugar from the mold creating a uniform product.
Excess sugar is captured and reprocessed to be used again.
When the sugar begins to harden, the sugar cone is removed from the mold and all the sugar cones are immediately wheeled into a “clean” room where women wrap the small blocks with the husks from corn ears.
The corn is not needed and given to the workers for free as the processor only wants the wrap for their sugar product.
Sugar has received a lot of bad press but this brown sugar is pure, has vitamins and is a healthy product. At the January harvest and processing, they are going to make sugar syrup for us to use on our pancakes.
This is currently the only modern processor of sugar cane in Central America. Who would like a tour?
David y Nancy
Our Friend Daniel Rivera is acknowledged for his service beyond self in the implementation of the Computer Project in La Granja by the visiting District Governor. In addition to this project Daniel was also on site for 3 ½ years providing all the support for the sanitation project in the same communities.
Second picture David y Nancy Slinde are acknowledged for their work by improving 5 public schools, by replacing roofing, installing drop ceiling, text desks (student & teacher) new floors, computer class rooms, windows, lightening, air conditioning.
One of the Rotarians was familiar with a restaurant up the side of the volcano from La Granja. It was a time of sharing by the Rotarians and this is what we learned.
Club Rotario has numerous partnerships with clubs from the United States. Its youngest members are encouraged to find a project they can work on. The project may need administration oversight, technical resources, not necessarily funding from the club, but funding might be needed.
A newer member Daniel is working on a plantics project here in the city of San Salvador. The goal is to teach the children where food comes from and these projects are meant to demonistrate that it can be done in new and different ways. The sites are at schools, the technical support is offered by a local university and funding is provided by agency from Spain.
Another project is surgery for children with defective hearts. They shared stories of children before and after surgery-was amazing. Another current project is prosthetecs for 100 Salvadorans. Service above self--its why we like it here.
It gets better next week.
David y Nancy
Saturday, November 7, 2015
After the Rotary meeting on Wednesday, a delegation of 9 traveled to the community public school to inaugurate the computer lab for students and teachers.
Club Rotario has 3 partners in this project. The municipal Mayor’s engineering department provided the electrical work for the stations.
The second is a nonprofit “Computodos” that receives used computers from a Rotary Club in San Palo, CA. Computodos installs new electronics, larger drives and has license from Microsoft to provide its software. A complete work station from Computodos costs $250.
The third partner is West Bend Sunrise Rotary. Using funding tools provided by our Rotary District, Nancy wrote for a District Grant (DG) of $3,000. The Sunrise Club approved the application and then submitted it to the DG committee who approved it in July.
The top picture is the new large computer room for the students to use at class time.
The second picture is the three computers in the principal’s office for the exclusive use of the teachers.
The bottom picture is in a different classroom. These students will begin early to learn to use computers for basic literacy skills. Pictured (L to R): Club Rotario President Omar, District Governor Violeta, Club Secretary Karla, project engineer Daniel and the school principal.
The next step for greater learning is to secure internet for the school and community.
Internet service is expensive and carriers hesitate to string copper wire only to have it disappear during the night
David y Nancy
Our first week in San Salvador focused on attending the Rotary meeting at the Hotel Sheraton. We have been partners in many community projects which include the major installation of sanitation sewer system, pedestrian bridge, text books and equipment for the school. Today we are celebrating the new computer classroom designed and furnished by Club Rotario at the school. This school is in the community of our sister parish, therefore these families and specifically the children are dear to us. Today is also special because the Rotary District Governor from Nicaragua is joining us. After the weekly meeting in which Daniel, the project engineer, was recognized for his excellent work on the planning and implementation, Club Rotarians received recognition for longevity of membership (40 and 50 years), and we received recognition for years of partnerships, the District Governor held a business meeting with the Club board. This is a typical practice for a District Governor to discuss the Club’s vision and values for the current and coming year. After this Governors meeting, a delegation of nine including the Governor, the two of us and six Club officers left for the school. Our passage out of the city required detours and new routes as many city streets were covered in mud and debris, plus structural damage from Monday night’s extreme rains that caused landslides and flooding. Our caravan of four vehicles arrived late and the students from the morning session had left for home. The teachers were eating lunch but the principals and a member of the Directiva greeted us. We have been to this school many times but they did not expect us today. When we emerged from the caravan, they were truly surprised. We viewed the computer zones: one zone of 3 computers for the teachers, a second zone of 22 computers for the older students in a separate new classroom and the balance in a different classroom. Zones 1 & 2 are in the same building where secure windows were installed, the room rewired to accommodate the additional electrical usage, and a drop ceiling with fans installed. We noticed the third zone needs a roof, windows and a ceiling with fans. We reviewed our combined history for the District Governor so she was aware that our presence was not “show” but a commitment to education in the community. Our history includes the purchase of a simple CD player which is used by the staff to teach the children the traditional music and culture of El Salvador and for English language learning. The District Governor was pleased to visit this school with many Rotary projects past, present and future. A plaque was placed on the building that gives acknowledgement to Club Rotario San Salvador and the Sunrise Rotary Club of West Bend, Wisconsin for the gift of this computer classroom. Our time came to a close as the afternoon students were arriving. Our delegation left for lunch at a restaurant up the volcano Boqueron. We passed many lush coffee plants filled with red cherries, drove into a wooded area that opened to a restaurant setting high above the city, providing a breath taking view and delicious food for which El Salvador is famous. David y Nancy
Thursday, November 5, 2015
We left for the airport Sunday afternoon to stay at the convenient park and fly hotel for early morning departure. At 4:00 Monday morning, much to our surprise, a small delegation from our synod was also on their way to El Salvador. We thought they left Sunday so the surprise was a pleasant one as we enjoyed conversation and time together on the trip. The delegation is participating in a gathering of the Lutheran churches from various locations in the US and Europe that have sister parish relationships in El Salvador. Due to heavy storms, we landed in Atlanta late and had to run to the international departure gate. The Atlanta baggage handlers on the other hand decided “what’s the rush?” As the delegation that originated from Milwaukee noticed the Salvadoran airport baggage belt void of any of our luggage, we knew what happened. Many other late arrivals at the gate had the same experience. Our baggage was promised for early Tuesday afternoon. That would give the baggage handlers 24 hours to move 58 bags a thousand feet on their trucks and carts used for such purpose. Francisco was to pick us up at the airport but it’s late and did he wait? When I completed the claim process I started to look for him and was overwhelmed with taxi drivers swarming me, blocking my way. I said I am looking for a specific motorist. A moment later Francisco’s brother, Alexi, walked up behind me and said “you’re going to Hotel Mariscal.” I recognized him; he was our driver in March and his children attend the public school where we are implementing additional grades and classrooms. This came together nicely. When we arrived at our hotel our clothing was drenched in sweat and smelled. We went to the mall next door to our hotel to purchase some replacement clothing. In the underwear department, the young man and I couldn’t determine what size was correct, so he said he would model it. It’s a term lost in translation; it wasn’t what it sounded like. After a very hot shower, clean clothes and a cold beer, at day’s end, we said it was a great First Day. Alexi arranged for his brother to pick us up at 12:30 to return to the airport. On the way I told Francisco what process we were told to follow. He said no way. I will go with you to guide you. We entered the main entrance of the airport and went to Information office. We had to leave our drivers licenses at Information office to secure a red entry pass. At the immigration/customs/baggage area, we experienced a heavy security search and headed to baggage claim. No one was attending the Delta counter. We then considered our red pass was available for “free range” and looked at every piece of luggage we could find with no luck. An agent approached us and said give me your paper work and I will track them down and told us where to stand. Then another Milwaukee person spotted Nancy and said your luggage is with the Synod delegation. So Nancy disobeyed orders and found our luggage. I was watching and joined her. The agent had abandoned his search for our luggage and was helping another traveler. We got our papers from him and returned to customs. The same agent from yesterday redirected us to another luggage scanner. The people in front of us were having many problems. We had none when it was our turn. Happily leaving the airport with Francisco, we stopped for pupusas and got 16 to share with friends at the hotel. On opening our suitcases for eating utensils and other supplies, we discovered that they had apparently been left on the cart in the rain in Atlanta. Most of our clothing was in plastic bags but clothes for tomorrow were not and were soaked. The hotel clothes dryer is broken, but between the hair dryer and the iron and enjoying freshly made pupusas, Day Two was another great day. David y Nancy