Why I Volunteer: Erin’s Nicaragua Trip Reflection

Written by Erin O’Neill, Feed the Children Volunteer      

My week spent in Nicaragua felt surreal, like when you are having a dream you never want to wake up from. We spent most days in El Crucero. My group worked on a variety of projects that included building a fence, teaching the parents the Heimlich maneuver, baking, gardening, farming, and so much more. However, the most important thing we accomplished was connecting with the people in the communities. They had so much knowledge to offer us, and getting to share stories about our different cultures was a unique experience that I’ll never forget.

At the beginning of the week, my group was given a challenge: build relationships with the people in the community. This task intimidated me much more than I would like to admit. I knew we would have a translator with us, but there were 14 of us in the group and I had never taken a Spanish class in my life. Half of the time, I forgot there was a language barrier. They knew our Spanish was not the best, and we knew their English would not be the easiest to understand. However, they did not let that stop them from engaging with us, which brought me comfort.

I’ve spent the last several weeks trying to accurately put into words how truly amazing the week I spent in Nicaragua was. I’m still searching for those words. In those seven days, I felt something I have never felt before. Every single member of the community in El Crucero community opened their hearts, minds, and homes to us. They were incredibly accepting, and they constantly reminded us how grateful they were for our work. They did not let their lack of material items hinder them from dreaming big, which was especially true for my sponsored child.

Initially, I was incredibly nervous about meeting my sponsored child.   Little did I know, meeting him was going to be the best experience of my life. When I got to his house, I was taken aback. It was small and made of wooden boards. The only thing that hung on the walls were pictures of his family. The only light that was present came from the sun. Despite the surrounding environment and my original fears, this child was the perfect match for me.

When we went inside to have a conversation, I asked him about school. He made a face that told me something wasn’t right. His mother informed me that he had hydrocephalus and had to be taken out of school because the activity was too much for him to handle. He told me that he had surgery two months prior to help drain the excess fluid from his brain and he hopes to return to school soon. I started to tear up because I faced something similar two years ago. My heart is smaller than the average person’s and beats at a fast, irregular pace. I told him how I had to give up many things and had surgery to help fix it. I let him know that even though it took some time, I’m back on my feet doing the things I love again. After hearing that, he smiled super wide. He said that when he grows up, he wants to be a doctor so he can help others, the same way people helped him. I still cry every time I think about that conversation. It amazed me how selfless he is. A young boy, living in poverty, wants to be one of the most respected and regarded professions in the world, and I know he will not let anything get in his way of achieving that goal.

Since I’ve returned, everyone asks me the same question, “What was your favorite part of the trip?” It’s not about the best moment, it is a collection of the relationships I built with the community. There is not a singular memory that stands out, but a continual lesson that I learned: trust. Each person trusted us with their equipment, children, land, animals, crops, etc. They trusted us with their personal experiences, hopes, and opinions. Most importantly, they trusted as strangers. We came onto their territory knowing minimal details about their culture and work, but they welcomed us with open arms. They taught me a lesson in trusting and accepting others without judgement, and that is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Education for a Better Life in Nicaragua

Here in the United States, children everywhere are getting ready for the end of school and the upcoming summer vacation. In Nicaragua, however, the school year runs from February to November, which means school is in full swing. And Feed the Children is there to support and encourage these young people and help ensure their success.

Eleven-year-old Aslin is one of these students. She lives in a rural community with just a hundred other families. The village is so remote it’s only accessible by a bus that runs once a day. Most people walk where they need to go.

There’s very little economic opportunity in Aslin’s community. As a result, some one in five adults immigrate to other countries, such as Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and as far away as Spain, looking for work. Aslin lives with her maternal grandparents while her parents earn money in Costa Rica that they send home to support her. Aslin’s mother works in housekeeping and her father works in maintenance. Since moving to Costa Rica, they have since had another daughter, which means Aslin is separated from a sister as well as her parents. “I feel sad because my parents are not with me,” Aslin says.

It’s a hard situation. Aslin misses her mom and dad. Her grandparents do the best they can, but there’s very little money. Her grandfather works in agriculture for meager wages. Aslin’s house is humble; it is made of adobe and pieces of corrugated steel sheets, with a tiled roof and dirt floor. They are fortunate to have electricity and potable water in the house.

The family’s diet is humble. Breakfast may consist of tortillas, beans, coffee, and eggs (if available). Lunch is rice, beans, cheese or eggs, and on rare occasions, chicken with tortilla. Dinner may be fried rice and beans (called gallopinto) with tortilla, cheese, and coffee. Sometimes the family just has beans with tortillas and cheese.

*12-2015 NI0015- AslinAslin is a sweet and happy girl. She helps at home by cleaning the house, washing the dishes, cooking, and watering the plants. When she was little, she suffered several common illnesses. But today she is very healthy, thanks in part to the support she’s received through Feed the Children’s the child sponsorship program. For the past several years, she’s received nourishing meals, a bookbag brimming with school supplies, and TOMS shoes twice a year through their giveaway program. She even receives a beloved toy every Christmas.

Aslin’s grandmother is grateful: “Feed the Children has provided so much to my granddaughter. She receives food that we lack sometimes. The school supplies are a great help, too—not just for her, but for everyone in the community who go through a tough situation.”

Aslin’s favorite subject is natural science. She would like to be a medical doctor when she grows up so she can help others children.

This is how the cycle of poverty is broken—through supporting children so they can grow into productive adults. With a little help and a little luck, Aslin can see her dreams become a reality.

You can be a hero to a child and his or her community. Make a difference through child sponsorship today.

A special thanks to Abdiel Navarrete for providing the content for today’s story.

Education is the Key: Jaqueline’s Story

Imagine having to choose which of your children will be the one to go to school. For too many parents around the world, this is the agonizing choice they must make.

Jaqueline is the lucky student in her household. Jaqueline, age 10, lives with her mother and two sisters in a small village in Nicaragua. Her older sister stays home with the younger one so their mother can work and Jaqueline can go to school. Each day between February and November Jaqueline joins almost 70 other students in a small school with three classrooms.

Jaqueline loves to play with dolls and toy kitchen sets. But she’s bright and imaginative enough to play with just about anything. During one recent visit she was seen amusing herself with a piece of plastic and a bunch of bottle caps. She enjoys her schoolwork too, and her favorite subject is literature. She loves to read, and even though she doesn’t own a book herself, she gobbles up the books her teacher brings to the classroom. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up, and she wants to teach the children in her community, in her words, “so they can study a lot.”

A decent education is one of the key elements in bringing kids out of poverty; in fact, it’s one the four pillars we focus on when engaging in community development. Education will give Jaqueline a fighting chance at a better life. But it’s a tough road. The unemployment rate is 90% where she lives, and her single mother ekes out a living working in tobacco, tomato and cucumber fields near their village. During harvesting season, Jaqueline’s mother earns about a hundred cordobas a day—that’s less than $4.

A wage like that is barely enough to keep the family’s pantry stocked with tortillas, rice and beans. A backpack full of school supplies would be unthinkable.

Unthinkable… except that individuals just like you have decided to stand with Jaqueline and help give her a future. Thanks to Feed the Children donors, partners, dedicated staff, and the engagement of the residents themselves, the unthinkable is now possible for Jaqueline and countless others.

*3-2015 NI0002 Jaqueline Morales  (1)Today, Jaqueline, her sisters, and other children in the village get a good nutritious meal five days a week. They receive shoes and other basics. And at the beginning of every school year, Jaqueline receives a backpack filled with school supplies that has allowed her to keep studying and help that dream of being a teacher to become a reality.

We know that helping lift children out of poverty is a multi-faceted process. For Jaqueline, a good meal means she’s able to focus on her studies without a grumbling belly. But the backpack gives her the supplies she needs to thrive in her studies. It’s also a tangible sign that we believe in her—that you believe in her.

Even at her young age, Jaqueline can see what this support has meant to her family: “Before, my mom was very sad when she could not pay for my school supplies, and she told me I would not be able to go to school. Now, I am happy, and she is happy, because I go to school.”

Jaqueline’s school year will be winding down soon—typically in Nicaragua, the children attend school between February and November. Here in the United States, however, the school year is well underway. Learn more about how our programs support education and how you can be a part of it.

TOMS Shares Shoes, Friendship in Nicaragua

In the Palo Verde community in Nicaragua, kids are growing and thriving… and so is fresh produce, thanks to a new garden that was recently planted as a result of a generous donation from an individual who visited the community recently.

With this gift, Feed the Children personnel were able to purchase tools, soil, compost, recycling bottles, hoses and pipes to create a small irrigation system. Students from the local school are tending the garden, which currently features onions and tomatoes, with plans to grow cassava. Children as young as seven are weeding, harvesting, and learning sustainable livelihoods—and are able to eat the fruits of their labor as well!

The community is also benefiting from a new submersible water pump to access fresh water. Up to this point the school has had to rely on the kindness of a local family, who granted access to their well, but were only able to do so for certain hours of the day. Now the school can rely on its own source of water, 365 days a year.

Last month a group from TOMS traveled to Nicaragua for a Giving Trip. The TOMS family includes a network of Shoe Giving Partners around the world and they host these trips to give their team members an opportunity to see the impact they are making and distribute shoes, learn about a Giving Partner, and experience the countries and communities they serve. The TOMS team was able to see Palo Verde firsthand, and we asked one of them to share her experiences in her own words.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 10.53.06 AMTell us about an experience or encounter that will stick with you.

Every encounter with every child, teacher, employee, or volunteer was so heartwarming and humbling, and genuinely contributed to an experience that I will forever hold close to my heart. Each person—big, small and teeny tiny—greeted us with either a smile, a timid look, or excitement at our presence, and gratitude for what we, at TOMS, do for them with the help of our Giving Partners like Feed the Children. But little did they know that they had an even greater impact on my soul than I feel I could have on them. 

I remember one particular boy, about 8 years old. After measuring his feet and trying on his shoes, he refused to keep his shoes on. He asked me to take them off and put his old, broken shoes back on. I was sad. I was sad that it seemed he was not as excited about his shoes as I was giving them to him. So with a heart full of sadness I watched him return to his seat. He didn’t know that I was watching him, but I saw him quietly return to his seat and sit down. Suddenly he hugged his shoes tightly with both arms and kissed them over and over again. My heart lifted. He was so happy and proud of his new shoes, and it warmed my heart that he hadn’t rejected the shoes, he had simply wanted to have a special moment with them first.  

What surprised you most about what you saw while there?

I was astonished by the amount of work, support and thoughtfulness behind each program that Feed the Children takes on to drive toward a better tomorrow. I was absolutely amazed by how much Feed the Children does and how immersed they are in the communities. They know these kids by name—they know their parents, their family history, and see each child as the most important gem on earth. It was incredibly beautiful to see, and I will forever be a lifetime advocate and fan of Feed the Children.

What did you take away from this experience?

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 10.58.51 AM

This experience was inspiring… the people, the work, the effort it takes… everywhere I turned I saw and learned something new. It truly takes a community of people who are hopeful about the future and want a brighter future to lift a community out of poverty. And the reality is that it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, hard work, and unwavering commitment from a whole lot of people. 

~

Here at Feed the Children, we appreciate the commitment of TOMS and all of our partners! Through their support, we are making a difference in the lives of children in Nicaragua and around the world. To learn more about our international work, click here

Bringing Hope to Nicaragua, Thanks to TOMS– One Foot at Time

We love when our partners get the opportunity to travel to the field to see how their contributions are changing lives.

 Recently, Morgan Loomis, our Director of International Partnerships traveled to Nicaragua with a delegation from TOMS—a committed partner of ours that provides new shoes to kids within our programs.

Morgan shared plenty upon her return.

Recently, Feed the Children hosted a Giving Trip in Nicaragua for a group from TOMS.

TOMS is in business to improve lives and wants to ensure their own team has the opportunity to experience this first-hand and see the impact their work is making.

I, along with local Feed the Children staff and the group from TOMS, spent a week in the field visiting communities and learning about our programs and 4-Pillar approach to development: Food and Nutrition, Water Sanitation and Health, Education, and Livelihoods.

Throughout the week, we delivered TOMS giving shoes, served meals, met with teachers and community leaders, and spent time playing with the children.

Though it was rainy season and extremely hot, I was so proud of how beautifully the TOMS staff interacted with the kids and community leaders we met during our journey. Everyone was so excited to see the work for themselves—through their eyes.

For me, personally, I loved the opportunity to interact with the hard working members of our field staff on the ground in Nicaragua. Our field teams are incredibly dedicated to our mission, but sometimes in the US we don’t truly understand all they do as they travel great distances every week to champion children in schools and at community centers. In Nicaragua alone, we feed nutritious meals to over 1,900 children in 20 communities and deliver school supplies to 1,200 students in 14 communities.

We met children in better health, doing better in school and with much hope for their futures. In community after community, teachers shared personal stories of the impact that they have seen on the children who receive TOMS and the glowing feedback they have received from parents.

Our team truly felt the joy of the children as we laughed and played with them. They love TOMS and Feed the Children for bringing shoes and the “shoemaking” team to them.

The visit gave the children an opportunity to meet TOMS staffers and make a personal connection to the individuals that support them.  This personal link is almost as important as the shoes themselves, because it truly makes the children realize someone truly cares and supports them.

We felt overwhelmed by the generous hospitality of the kids’ songs, poems and dances. Parents shared with our team later, how much the kids enjoyed playing games with the travelers and how special the visit made them feel.

TOMS groupOn our last day, the group spent the morning at Feed the Children’s Productive Training Center in El Crucero, delivering TOMS to children and visiting with the mothers. At the center, mothers are taught livelihood skills, such as training in vegetable production, baking, tailoring and poultry management. These skills not only allow them to provide food for their children, but are also an alternative income generation resource they can use to support their families in other ways.

Before we left, the volunteer moms surprised the team with a TOMS cake and expressed gratitude for their support. How cool was this!

TOMS cakeI came home thankful for TOMS and the privilege of working with the wonderful donors that support Feed the Children’s international programs.

Truly, one child, one pair of shoes at a time, we are impacting kids’ lives forever in Nicaragua, and around the world!

Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life

By November 2, American kids have stuffed their costumes—worn for one thrilling night—down into their dress-up boxes. They’ve sorted and traded their treats and have eaten their favorites first. But as kids in America wind down from their Halloween highs, kids in Nicaragua are just starting their fun. Today, they celebrate life on Day of the Dead.

Meet Jennifer

Twelve-year-old Jennifer lives in El Crucero, an urban area of Nicaragua. She earns a scholarship to attend seventh grade at a private school by helping out at a community preschool. After school, she goes to the Feed the Children facilities in her community, where she takes computer, music, English, and piano classes. Computer class is her favorite—she’s very tech savvy, and she wants to become a business administrator when she grows up because she’d like to work in an office and have her own employees. Jennifer has aspirations and drive—all she needs is opportunity. So that’s what we offer.

Unlike so many of the kids Feed the Children works with around the world, Jennifer has actually seen enough of what life can be to know what it should be.

Jennifer’s mom has a bachelor’s degree in marketing, but jobs are incredibly difficult to come by where they live, even for educated people, so right now she stays at home taking care of Jennifer’s 5-year-old twin sisters and the family’s small house. Jennifer’s dad went to school through sixth grade, and he works as a driver for a private company, earning about $152 a month to support their family of 5.

Jennifer’s family is Catholic, so Day of the Dead, commemorated on November 2 every year, is always a special religious holiday for them—but this year, it really hits close to home.

Jennifer has found her smileiagain

Celebrating Day of the Dead in Jennifer’s Community

In El Crucero, Day of the Dead is a big deal to everyone—the government and private companies usually give employees a half- or full-day off. Contrary to what the name may conjure for Americans, Day of the Dead isn’t a sad day for Nicaraguans—it’s a day to remember and celebrate the good moments spent with loved ones who have passed away.

At the entrance to the cemetery in El Crucero stands a white statue of Jesus, his arms wide open as if to welcome the people who arrive there. Almost all of the headstones are very humble and modest, but on Day of the Dead, the cemetery is full of color and life.

Vendors set up stalls just outside the cemetery to sell hydrangeas—which you can see growing wild throughout El Crucero— lilies, daisies, and other local flowers for people to adorn the graves with.

Improvised food stands appear, too, as people are always looking for a way to make extra income amidst the difficult economic situation. The stands are full of Nicaraguan cuisine: vigoron (a cabbage salad), chicharrones (fried pork skin wrapped in banana leaf), and chancho con yucca (fried pork with boiled yucca, topped with tomato, onions, cabbage, and chili marinade). And some families bring as tradition their own sweets, like buñuelos (sweet yucca fritters) or sopas borrachas (“drunken soup,” a rum-laced simple syrup cake), to enjoy during the day.

Families freshen the graves, removing weeds, setting out new flowers, lighting candles, and repainting the headstones. Some families will spend the day in the cemetery, filling it with the sounds of music from their guitars or radios—or, if the family can afford it, Mariachis will play the favorite songs of the one who has passed—laughter, and stories of the memories they hold dear. And if families request it, priests will conduct masses, and the sound of prayers floats heavenward.

Jennifer at her home in El Crucero

Jennifer Remembers Her Aunt

The public transportation in El Crucero is officially named Inter-local, but people have nicknamed it Inter-mortales (“Inter-lethal”) because high speeds and reckless drivers cause such frequent traffic accidents. This year, a dear aunt of Jennifer’s passed away in a terrible accident on the main road of El Crucero.

Dora Graciela and her 5-year-old son were passengers on the motorcycle that her husband was driving. They stopped for a moment and parked on the side of the road, when suddenly they were hit by a truck driven by a drunk man who had fallen asleep behind the wheel. Both her husband and son survived, but Dora Graciela did not.

Jennifer’s aunt was only 33 years old. She was a lawyer, a mommy, a wife, and, to Jennifer, the best aunt a girl could have. Jennifer was Dora’s favorite niece, and Dora liked to treat her by buying her clothes and spending time together, like the day they went window-shopping at the malls in Managua.

Jennifer says, “On Day of the Dead we remember our loved ones and miss them. In my family we pray the rosary and pray for our relatives that have passed away. It was very difficult for us this year—we felt a deep grief for the death of my aunt Dora Graciela. The death of a loved one is very painful because you wish this would never happen to any family member.”

Jennifer is continuing with her life by playing music

Jennifer Keeps on Living

Feed the Children’s programs are all designed to help kids be kids. That means we look out for their total well-being from physical, to educational, to emotional. So when her teachers noticed Jennifer was really affected by her aunt’s death, Jairo Garcia, a psychologist who is a specialist in childhood and youth psychopathology, began working with her to help her overcome her grief.

Dr. Garcia says, “Feed the Children has been concerned about the mental state of children that attend our program, so I worked with Jennifer regarding the mourning she faced in the first weeks after the death of her family member, expressing to her that people we love never die, that they stay alive forever in our hearts. And we have had good results because now her smile, which was gone in the beginning, has come back.”

Despite her loss, Jennifer has kept up her good grades at school, she enjoys going to her afterschool classes at Feed the Children, and she is focused on studying hard to achieve her dreams. She misses her aunt but she knows Dora would want her to get the very best out of life.

“There are so many needs here—there are no jobs, the economic situation is difficult, some houses don’t have electricity or piped water, and that is an issue in this community. There are some small kids that don’t go to school, so I am going to study harder and to prepare myself better in order to achieve my dream to become a business administrator so my parents and my aunt Dora, who is in heaven now, can be proud of me.”

On Day of the Dead, Jennifer celebrates Dora’s life. And every day, with the help of Feed the Children’s partners and donors, she works hard to build her own.

Feeding Minds: How We Are Ending the Cycle of Poverty

This is the third in a four-part series introducing you to our proactive, sustainable approach to ending poverty and improving lives. Our Four Pillars—Food & Nutrition, Health & WaterEducation, and Livelihoods—comprise an 8- to 10-year, integrated program that equips and empowers impoverished families and communities to achieve self-sufficiency.

Today we’ll take a look at the Education pillar, where we work toward positive, lasting change by providing children with educational opportunity and support.

***

If you were to take a tentative step into the fetid streets of the Kibera slum of Kenya, the first thing you might notice is the stench—one million people packed into one square mile without plumbing will do that. You’d notice poverty streaked into every face. You’d notice children scavenging; you’d notice babies languishing.

But what you might not notice—not right away, though it’s there—is the hope slowly growing. Because tucked into a cluster of tiny ramshackle building is Spurgeons Academy.

Feeding children in body and mind

Throughout the world, about 215 million children have to work—some of them full-time—to help their families make it through the day. They can’t attend school because it’s more important that they find food or sell scraps or haul water. Food and water are the most basic human needs, and every other need, no matter how important, falls by the wayside when people don’t have them.

Children living in poverty don’t get proper nutrition. Children who are poorly nourished can’t make education a priority. Children who lack education remain living in poverty. And on it goes.

photo

So Feed the Children breaks into this cycle to come alongside families who desperately need a way out. We run programs at schools in impoverished areas around the world, like the Kibera slum, to regularly provide nutritious meals to 350,000 children who might otherwise go an entire day without eating. We provide school materials like backpacks and uniforms. We pay for teachers if none are available in a community. And if a school doesn’t already exist in the area, or if it’s in disrepair, we build a new one—and this is often the only place a community has access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

The food and clean water they can count on getting at school is a strong incentive for attending—and while they’re there to get their most basic needs met, they get an education too.

Educating parents to raise healthy kids

Providing education for children is an important part of our work—and so is providing education for their parents. By teaching the adults in impoverished communities good health, nutrition, and sanitation practices, we equip them to improve the quality of life for their whole family.

In the Pueblo Nuevo community of Nicaragua, we recently held a comprehensive two-day training on nutrition and preventative health. Nineteen women learned about the food chart; the relationships among health, nutrition, and education; signs of malnutrition, including measurement of children; hygiene in food handling; and personal hygiene.

The women were enthusiastic about the training and are eager not only to get more, but to pass it along. They recognize that this kind of education has tremendous ability to further the hard work they’re already doing in their community to improve their children’s health and give them a better future.

Kids can’t thrive when their families are trapped in poverty. Education is the key to breaking them out of the cycle. If we want to improve their lives, we have to help them get an education. And we do.

With school walls separating them from the slum, the children are insulated for the day. Most of them are orphaned or have only one parent—and that parent is either gravely ill or struggling to support the family with odd jobs for meager pay. There is no doubt life in Kibera is beyond difficult.

But this morning they chatted and laughed over their hot bowls and fresh cups, and now they’re engaged in the lesson—fed in body, mind, and spirit. When Spurgeons Academy opened in 2000, a handful of children attended, but with the assurance of a meal every day, now over 400 come.

Inside these walls, they have hope—and it shows.

DSCN0928

 

Pay-It-Forward from Australia to Nicaragua to the Neighbor Next Door

They say it takes a village to raise a child — sometimes it takes a few. A recent visit by His Excellency Tim George, Australian Ambassador to Mexico and Accredited to Nicaragua, revealed how teamwork around the world is inspiring Feed the Children’s work in Latin America.

Mr. George met Angelica when he visited our Productive Training Center in El Crucero last month. She received a chicken module several months ago through our pay-it-forward process.

angelica rooster blog crop

At its most basic level, a chicken module is simply 10 hens and one rooster that we give to a family to raise. But it’s much more than that. A chicken module is a life-changer. It provides fresh eggs, meat, and income for a family that is otherwise severely limited in resources. Even beyond this, it is help offered to a neighbor. Each family we give a chicken module to will then raise another module to give to a neighboring family, creating a positive cycle of self-reliance for an entire community.

Angelica has been able to triple the number of hens we gave her. She has done so well with the chickens that not only can she feed her family fresh eggs every day, but she has enough extra to sell in the local market.

chayote squash blog crop
Angelica has branched out beyond the chicken module into vegetable gardening. This is chayote, a Nicaraguan squash.
ambassador egg
Australian ambassador Tim George with freshly picked eggs

The families in El Crucero thrill to show off what they’ve accomplished with the chicken modules. They made the ambassador’s visit an opportunity to thank their donors for supporting a program that’s made such a difference in their lives. Today, the community of El Crucero is raising healthy chickens, producing in the greenhouse, and running their new bakery facilities.

El Crucero illustrates how people from the U.S. to Australia to Nicaragua can come together to build community self-sufficiency programs.

Since partnering with Feed the Children in 2011, the Australian Embassy in Mexico has played a key role in helping families in need in Latin America. In just the last couple of years, their donated funds have made a measurable difference:

  • In Honduras we built two bakeries, benefiting 540 children and their families.
  • In Guatemala we provided 20 chicken modules, benefiting 244 children and their families.
  • In El Salvador we provided 20 chicken modules, benefiting 110 children and their families; and we provided another 20 chicken modules, benefiting 174 children and their families.
Veronica’s family received their chicken module two months ago!
Veronica’s family received their chicken module two months ago!

Community building takes teamwork between generous donors, effective programs, and willing participants. Without any one of these elements, this kind of community strengthening can’t happen. But it is happening—and it’s exciting to see. With funding from partners like the Australian embassy, our programs are making a real difference in helping families in El Crucero to develop new skills and earn income.

El Crucero is full of success stories like Angelica’s:

  • Brenda sold the first pick of eggs and, from those earnings, she was able to purchase a pig that she’s now fattening up to sell later for a significant profit.
  • Leticia and Veronica received their chicken modules just two months ago and their families are able to eat fresh eggs for breakfast.
  • Veronica’s new livelihood has created quite the demand—her neighbors come to her house looking for the delicious bread she makes at our center. 

This means their children have food for today and hope for the future.

girl with rooster SM

Years ago, we tested this community-development program in El Salvador. An Australian official visited, was impressed with our work there, and spread the word. Our international office staff worked together, shared their experiences, and helped each other craft proposals and reports to send to others willing to consider supporting this program in additional communities. Soon we got funding for Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua too.

Cooperation is how this program began, and cooperation is how it thrives.

Teamwork, both between our international offices and with partners from Australia to Alaska, demonstrates that we are a competent and professional organization. We will continue collaborating with each other, with our partners, and with the communities we serve, so that we continue see people moving toward self-sufficiency and sustainability.

Together, our hope grows.

If you’d like to partner with us in providing hope, learn more about the chicken modules HERE.