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.