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.