Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CIPI Dance

I started a dance project with the girls at CIPI at the beginning of 2nd wave. It originally started with the adolescent girls without infants and the teen mothers. We started off with aerobics and basic hip-hop. Because of the difficulty of watching a baby while dancing, the mothers attended only a few classes of their own. The adolescent girls continued to want to have classes. This class was extracurricular for the girls; meaning they had to attend all of their school classes and do their homework in order to attend. These girls also wanted to perform in a competition at the end of August. We prepared a near 1 1/2minute routine filled with salsa, jazz dance and hip-hop. The girls practiced twice a week with me for an hour each time. HELP funded pink fabric so that the girls could sew matching skirts. The girls are definitely missed and I wish them the best of luck at their competition this month!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

CIPI Young Mothers

We have been doing a lot of exciting things with the young mothers at CIPI the last few weeks, and their favorite activity so far has been building their own square foot garden! To get them excited about the garden we had an activity where we used fruits, vegetables, and peanut butter to make fun snacks. On the left is Debbie with one of the young mothers and her vegetable face, and on the right, I am pulling out a very exciting item...peanut butter! They went nuts over the peanut butter. They were also super excited about the fresh food, and they would applause whenever I pulled a new fruit or vegetable out of my bag! The next week we wanted to start on the garden, but it looked like it wasn´t going to work out. However, one of our volunteers, Sam Brady, (in the picture below, explaining the gardens to the girls) worked super hard to make sure it worked out. We wanted the young mothers to feel like they owned the project, so we brought the supplies, showed them what to do, and let them do it. They were so excited, and they really worked hard! The girls dug out a spot for the garden, sifted sand, made a rock wall around the garden, put in posts, tied string to partition the garden into sections, and planted and watered the seeds. While we were working the girls told us that this was their favorite activity so far, and that they liked to work more than they liked to do crafts or play games. The girls are so much fun, we have loved getting to know them all!

Friday, August 1, 2008

CISNA Carnival

This post is long overdue, so here it is!

Our Carnival day at CISNA was our big closing activity with the 1st waivers and was led by our project lead Britney Watts. We started our big carnival with all of the CISNA boys in the auditorium room. They were lucky enough to see all the HELP volunteers (1st and 2nd wave) put on some pretty sweet presentations. Because of our lack of men in our group, the first act involved some women dressing up as men. We´ve never looked so good :) The 2nd skit involved a crazy step dance with the sounds of New York City in the background. The boys got a kick out of both performances.
We then split up the four Hogares (houses of the boys) into 2 groups. One group used team work to do a water balloon toss game and also tear apart a gigantic Batman piñata. The other group could visit up to five of the nine stations we had set up. The stations consisted of a picture behind a muscle man and elf, face painting, fishing for prizes, duck pond, fortune telling, football through a tire, and a few more. After 45 minutes, the groups switched. After a fun day of those activities, they celebrated with an overabundance amount of candy and pizza.
The boys really enjoyed working with the HELP volunteers and each other in this activity. After the carnival, HELP volunteers left them a poster with many pictures of the volunteers and the boys having a good time. The boys still enjoy looking at the poster and seeing each other´s pictures.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The BEST game graduation!

Especially for all of our 1st and 2nd wave volunteers who had to suffer through our ¨practice¨rounds of the BEST game modules, I think it is time for the world to see what a difference the BEST game is making this summer in El Salvador. Boldly going were no one has gone before, we taught not 1, not 2, not 3, but FOUR Best game business simulation modules! Yep! Creative products out of ¨raw material¨(quarter sheets of paper), supply and demand charts, marketing strategies, location location location, tourist hats, tall hats, Enrique´s wholesale and Sandra´s store to be sure. It is all now unforgetable for so many. Our students have been staff members and program managers for Microfinance Institutions or NGOs here in El Salvador, headed by ALPIMED. We´ve actually had 2 organizations ask us now how they can purchase their own set. All in all we´ve taught members of 5 organizations, with a couple more on a waiting list and some requests to take the game to the people who would benefit from it the most, the microentrepreneurs themselves. This next week we will be teaching parts of the BEST game to some united women who have started their own small business selling what we call ¨speckled eggs¨which are super small but considered a super delicous delicacy. Apparently they are also low in cholesterol. More on that next time!
Below are pictures of some of our modules, and the culmination which happened last Thursday of Module 4 and passing out our graduation certificates.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Playground Equipment for CIPI

This a pic of the current slide as CIPI

As one of our bigger projects, we had the opportunity to purchase new playground equipment for the toddlers at CIPI. The old equipment has been around for years and is very damaged and unsafe. The slide has many holes, a teeter-totter that is broken, and a swing that gave out on Monday and caused a child to fall while swinging. so needless to say these kids needed new stuff. We puchased two little play sets. The kids were estatic to have the new equipment. I don´t think I have ever seen so many kids swarmed over one toy in my life. It was like Christmas for them. It made us grateful for the things we have in or lives. We hope to by the end of the summer purshase some sheet metal and weld a new slide for them, and we hope to also purchase some chains to fix their swing set.

American Idol!

We were very privilaged to join Padre Vito as they battled it out to gain the title of Padre Vito Superstar. The participatants were all excited to be a part of the night and we were all impressed by their talent. Mike, Rachel and I (Sarah ) all dressed up as the judges. We couldn´t help but give everyone tens (except for Mike was playing Simon so he had to be a little harsh). Each contestant wore the special sunglasses and sang their hearts out. They all wanted to do a second round they loved it so much. We as volunteers were also given a shot...let´s just say that we didn´t do too hot. But the kids who judged us were very gracios. They gave Rachel a 10 and me a 9. And they loved Mike. In the end we decided everyone was a winner..because in reality all of these kids are. They are so special and just want to be loved. And that´s something priceless that we can give them.

Friday, July 4, 2008


We were so excited to spend Tuesday with the Microfinance organization named ASEI. One of their smaller offices was in Cojutepeque and we were able to travel with Licenciada Rodriguez to visit the village bank in a village there.
ASEI started working with community banks in 1993 and mainly services women. The number of people in a village bank lies between 6-35. This office services 250 village banks, they have only 7 promoters in that reigon and they have only one office to service these 1450 clients! Talk about busy busy!
The specific village bank we observed consisted of 18 women (that´s a LOT of people!) and they were all from the same village. Their loan amount was over $3,000 and they seemed so united and happy. Their village bank has been together for over 4 years and they were there for their second payment over the 4 month loan period.
We were able to visit these small businesses that varied from tortilla making, to small tiendas to a bakery. It was wonderful to hear their stories and share this experience and excitement with them. It was such a learning experience for all of us, truly it was a joy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Habitat for Humanity
Every thursday we go to Santa Ana and help the organization Habitat for Humanity build houses for people that couldn´t otherwise afford it. This is a great oppritunity to get to know the families that live in the houses and it feels good to be able to see the difference that you are making.
Last Saturday they gave away 6 houses that to families and it was neat to see the house that we had been working on ( in the picture above) with an actual family living in it!!
Darby Davies

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Princes and Princess Day!

Yesterday we had a lot of fun teaching the boys and girls at CIPI all about princes and princesses. Cody asked the boys, ¨What do princes do?¨and they all shouted ¨kill the dragon!¨. He also taught that princes share with others and save the beautiful girls from danger. The girls were given crowns and fancy gloves and rings and were taught how to act like a princess. Then they recieved their glamor shots. The boy also recieved superhero toys and colored pictures of their favorite superhero. Here are some pics of our fun filled day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Photos and Fun!

Here are some long awaited pics from projects we have been talking about and working with.

Here we have Whitney reading to some boys at CISNA. These boys love reading and being read to! They sometimes you have like 6 or 7 of them all wanting to see the pictures over your shoulder as you try to read books to them. WHAT A JOY!Below we have Darby teaching and leading the Beginners English class at the LDS Employment Services office. We teach there three afternoons a week and it is so fun to teach people English! We are all really close to the students now and will miss them when we leave. They are always concerned when one teacher is missing and are truly a blessing to work with.

This picture below is for all of the Padre Vito fans out there! Here is Leighann posing with Geovani from the orphanage Padre Vito Guarato. Here´s an comment Christine made about working with Geovani :

" My favorite moment was when a small group of three of us were working under the pavilion and Geovani came "running" toward us on his walker. His legs were pumping as fast as he could…like 30 steps for every foot! He was SO excited to come join us. He was shaking with excitement, had a huge smile on his face, and made sounds of utter glee coming toward us. Finally when he sat down with us, he carefully and patiently took out his box of dominos. I don't think I'll ever forget seeing the smile of delight spread across his face as he looked at his precious box of dominos…..they obviously light up his life. He kept smiling the whole time he played with us. Quite a joy to work with Geovani. Not only is he handsome, and not only does he wear a shirt and tie without fail everyday, but he shares his special spirit with us and it is something marvelous to think about—how he lives with so much grace even with his limitations---and how that is a valiant example to us all. "

Last but definitely NOT least, is a picture of our project lead for CIPI, Ashley Watts. She has been working with CIPI as project lead during the whole wave, and has been doing an amazing job with the help of the other volunteers. Recent projects have included making name tags with each child individually being able to decorate it. The niñeras (nannies) love the work HELP is doing for these sweet toddlers. They are absolutely adorable, and we also feel blessed to serve and love these children every week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Today Mike, Blanca, Angela and Leighanne went to the Zacamil, the hospital where we will be volunteering for an orientation with one of the assistant director of nursing. We were given a tour of the hospital and introduced to several of the nursing supervisors for the different floors. They are were very gracious and said they were excited to have the help. The usual nurse to patient ratio is 1 nurse to 15-20 patients if the patients are somewhat stable. If they patients are intensive care, the ratio is one to four. Some of the nurses explained that they usually work 14 hour shifts and if the oncoming nurse doesn´t show up, they have to work for twenty four hours. We will be starting actual volunteer work next week. We hammered out the details of what we would be able to do as volunteers. They said they would appreciate help with bathing patients, changing positions, cleaning, working with the occupational therapists and other therapy units such as child therapy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 9, 2008

In the morning we headed to CIPI. The volunteers split into two groups: one group working with the toddlers and the other working with the infants and mothers. The preschooler group had a successful day playing with sidewalk chalk, playing games, coloring and reading books.

One group stayed at CIPI during the afternoon and did glamour shots with all the girls and their babies. We hope to print the pictures and make frames for the girls to keep.
The other group headed to CISNA where we did activities with Hogar 2. We are getting the kids excited for our big fiesta-carnival this Friday. Stay tuned!

Next, we headed to LDS English. The teachers are all loving the opportunity to speak their own language! But don´t worry we love Spanish!

Posted by=Whitney Smith

Padre Vito

today was amazing just like every other day. we were lucky enough to have all the volunteers come with us. each volunteer splits off into groups with two or three people and worked with them from playing dominoes, to making bracelets, to talking with them or dancing, etc.
a brief description of padre vito:
it was started by padre vito, a man who wanted to give handicapped children a second chance. there is currently over 150 adults and children with disabilities, ranging from new borns to middle adulthood. we are so blessed that we have this wonderful oppurtunity to work with these individuals, and we learn so much from their special spirits.
-love whitney hansen

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June 2, 2008

Today we went to CIPI in the morning we worked with the toddlers and the nursery children. We taught the toddlers about the animals. They love when we come! Right when we walk in, they all jump on us and are so excited that we are there! They all have such sweet spirits and different personalitys, it is really fun to get to know these children. Today there was a new boy that arrived and it just broke my heart because he cried almost the whole time, screeming, “mama mama” Who knows when the next time he will see her. These kids just need love and it is so awesome to be there for them and give them the love they have always dreamed of!

Today we made mask with the boys. They loved it! We each gave them a paper plate and paint and they created these sweet masks. We thought that paint would get all over the place but it ended up staying under control which was wonderful! These boys have a lot of personality and are so so fun to work with!! It is always such an adventure coming here!

LDS ENGLISH rocks! From 5:00-6:00 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we teach English! It is so much fun! The people are so excited to learn English! You always have to be at the top of your game because you never know what kind of question they are going to ask you! It is a really good review for my owwwn Enlish J/k

Friday, May 23, 2008

Aventuras in El Salvador!

HOLA to all! This is Blanca G. Rodriguez, one of the Country Directors for the HELP International El Salvador group of volunteers. We have had the first wave of volunteers for almost 3 weeks! Can you believe it!!!!

Did y’all know that El Salvador is the only country in the world named after the Savior? It’s an amazing thing to see the Savior’s name everywhere. I wonder, though, how many people realize that the Lord’s name is being used everywhere and also that they themselves are named Salvadoreños or “People of The Savior”.

We have started a variety of projects, but I just wanted to touch on two of those. We will be having other volunteers and CD´s update more information about activites cooresponding to the variety of projects.

We have been able to work with CISNA and CIPI, organizations under the government organization ISNA that takes care of orphaned, abused, or delinquent children. There are four homes at CISNA that include the ages of 7-10 years old, 11-14 years old, 15-18 years old and a home for new boys in the complex. It’s actually really funny because the first home with the youngest children will see us walking into the complex and they’ll start chanting: “gringas, Gringas, GRINGAS! GRINGAS!” Meaning “white girls!” – it made me laugh SO hard the first time as we were walking in because when they start yelling in unison all of the complex knows we’re here and everyone comes out to say hello…what an entrance…I feel like a Salvadoran movie star! Jaja! No, just kidding. But we will be starting to teach the oldest boys at CISNA there business principles by teaching the BEST game. This is a game or business simulation that helps present certain basic business principles such as accounting, competition, supply/demand in a market economy…things like that. It’s really fun and will be useful for these older boys since they are in workshops or talleres that teach them how to use industrial sewing machines, to bake bread in the panaderias, and teach them to tailor. This allows them to leave the complex with skills that they can immediately use to make money instead of resorting to delinquency or gang activity to survive from day to day. This will be such a fun experience.

With CIPI, we work with young mothers and girls who have been abused in different ways and have been pulled out of their homes and placed in CIPI until they can safely be returned to their homes or placed in an alternative home. These include girls that have been involved with prostitution. The second wing at CIPI we work with is the preschoolers. These are either children that have been abused or children of the girls in the complex who have been removed from the homes as well. Lastly, we have a group of infants that we work with and play with. These include babies that have been abandoned at hospitals and left unclaimed. Also, these include the babies of girls in the complex. This is the toughest wing to work in because you see babies with hydrocephaly or other illnesses that are only a couple of weeks old that have been completely abandoned. There are even perfectly healthy babies that are just left at hospitals. I appreciate the efforts of the government to establish such a place for these children and young girls. We are working hard to help raise the self esteem of the girls, and give attention and love to the little ones.

So, in conclusion, I thought it would be a good idea to include a couple of do’s and don’ts of being in a Latin American country:

DO remember to wear spandex or shorts under your skirts, because sometimes the Salvadoran buses come whizzing by and cause you to have a certain Marolyn Manroe moment in front of a lot of people.

DON’T play soccer barefoot, because you never know when you’ll have to kick the ball off of a wall of bricks and miss the ball and end up kicking a brick wall instead…owie!

DON’T eat questionable meat – Montezuma’s revenge is not pretty.

This is us eating at Fashion Rabbi´s house - her and her husband are from the U.S. Thank heaven for those that can barbeque for us!This is us at a Mother´s Day ward activity. We sang some primary hymns, and the rest of the ward presented breakdancing and latin dancing...we felt really cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Blanca & Christine say HOLA!!!

Hey guys! We are your El Salvador Country Directors! We are totally excited to get to work with our volunteers! We will write more personal info soon, so you'll get to know us better!

Friday, January 11, 2008


OK, I just wanted to post and let anyone who is still checking this site know that we have our new Country Directors for 2008. They are Christine Weiss and Blanca Rodriguez!