David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Sunday, October 30, 2016

2016 Oct TRIP

We previously wrote about a young girl from the community of our current public school project.  She was sitting next to an adult at a roadside café eating pupusas when a gunman drove past and fired shoots. Joselyn was hit in the throat.  She was hospitalized for months. When the doctors didn’t have the experience to perform surgery, they contacted a hospital in Boston for assistance.  Joselyn had surgery there and will need more to repair her breathing and eating functions.  A recent picture shows her gaining weight and looking much better.
We are writing from El Salvador.  Our first week has been spent with a Habitat Build.   A group of sixteen from around the USA has gathered, some with experience and a couple of first timers.  Thrivent Financial has been building homes in the Santa Ana area since the past earthquake.  While building homes might be completed in this particular community, we hope Thrivent Financial continues its support of Habitat in other locations.  El Salvador is still short over 400,000 homes.
The remainder of our visit will focus on our agriculture and public school projects.  We continue in agriculture as food production is limited and food needs to be imported.  Our projects create small businesses for poor rural families.  Forty nine families participated in the past project, learning the latest practices to improve yields and some were provided rented land.  All total, approximately 150 families have benefit from these small business projects.  Also five women’s cooperatives were established for raising chickens. 
Nine high school graduates were provided scholarships to learn a trade at the technical school in Usulután.  They finish studies in December but the graduation ceremony will be in March and we will have to miss it.
With continued violence throughout the country, many businesses have closed.  Others and our project partners are determining what new practices can be established to protect their equipment, employees and customers.  With that in mind, we have partnered to establish a Technical School for the study of agriculture in the western zone of the country. The students will need a high school education to attend. Our goal is to make this school sustainable, using many of the practices our friend Daniel experienced at Wellspring Organic Farm in Newburg, Wisconsin.
The last week will close with the dedication of the new Kindergarten classroom building that we have been fundraising for this past year.  Forty students will attend in the morning and another forty in the afternoon session.  After the formal dedication ceremony, the first ninth grade class will graduate.  We received a special invitation so our plans include attending to enjoy one our most rewarding projects.  Our donors have strengthened this public school by providing class room dividers, new roofs, windows and an air-conditioned computer lab. In adding the 7, 8, 9 grade classes, our donors have provided the desks and text books for students and teachers.
At our first visit to the school in 2013, the enrollment was 270, now it’s over 500. The students stay in their community to attend school and can avoid all the gang turf wars that are penalizing the education of its youth.  It’s estimated over 80,000 youth stay home as the streets are too dangerous to travel.  This has resulted in schools closing and teachers being laid off.
This is why school projects are so important for changing the future of the youth, families and communities.

David y Nancy 

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