It’s All About the People
By Jana Stohler, CDF/ConDev Intern at Shelter the Homeless International Projects (SHIP) - El Salvador
It’s hard to believe that I only have two weeks left in El Salvador. The time has gone by too fast! Collecting data for the research project for ConDev at Texas A&M University in conjunction with the Conflict and Development Foundation (CDF) has exceeded all expectations. There have been many opportunities to talk with people about poverty, food security and conflict, including one evening when over 60 people from different parts of the city came to SHIP’s event at their facility. It was a unique experience to meet people from different areas and different walks of life.
Last Saturday, a fresh team of volunteers from Texas, Florida, and Australia arrived to assist SHIP El Salvador with reaching out to the community by upgrading and improving their living conditions. Early this week, the team finished the complete rebuilding of a home in the neighborhood that was started by the first team of volunteers, and they started work on a second house in a location that is extremely difficult to access. Everything needed for this second job had to be carried down a very steep incline. I was told that it’s the poorest house SHIP has ever worked on, but it was so worthwhile to help this family.
I’ve continued studying with the children from the neighborhood most afternoons when they come for their tutoring session. After their tutoring session last Friday, they had their monthly time of praise and recognition. Many of the children were recognized for improvements in their grades, good conduct, and overall good attitudes. Each tutor gave a little speech, and then each child was called forward to choose a prize. When it was over, the children couldn’t wait to show off their prizes and talk about their recognition! Many of them ran to me to show their new treasures and waited patiently for as much praise as I could give. Seeing the joy on their faces was a priceless experience for me.
Emporio Lidia, the business program for women, opened for its regular hours on Wednesday and Friday afternoons this week. SHIP’s President from the U.S. arrived last week, and the area where the shop is located has been revamped and upgraded. Items were rearranged, and more merchandise has been placed out for the shoppers to see. The whole environment felt more content and excited. I enjoyed seeing the contentment on the sales ladies’ faces as they shopped this week for items that they will sell in the community to help generate income for their families!
Over these past few weeks, it’s been amazing to see all the things happening at SHIP El Salvador. With the improvements in Emporio Lidia’s shopping area, the continuation of tutoring, the ConDev/CDF’s research project, and the other ongoing projects, I’ve been amazed to see how the relationships and community are being developed. I’ve so enjoyed getting to know these people and being a part of SHIP’s work in El Salvador!