Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Eagle Has Landed

"El Salvador always waits for you with open arms."
El Salvador is hot! In a good way of course.

We (Juliann, Tyler, America) got here late last night, and have been enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the awesome people that love HELP International. Estella Salguero, a close friend of Emily Foster, one of last year's Country Directors, was gracious enough to agree to cook for us again this year as she did last year. She also offered up her house for the few days as we look for a suitable place for the rest of the group.

At this point we have several leads on housing, and plan to spend most of the day tomorrow (Thursday) hopefully solidifying somewhere to live, if not we're confident that in the next few days we'll be moving into our new home. Until then, Estella has been taking great care of us.

This morning we were able to meet with Sabrina and Jose Carlos at FUDEM, an amazing organization down here that works really hard to provide dental and vision services at affordable rates. Optometrists, Opthamologists, Dentists, and more spend time away from their own places of employment to provide top-notch service for the entire country. Jose Carlos is head of the Outreach Programs, which we'll be helping with a lot this summer. We'll be taking all of our volunteers to a training with them next week (fresh off the boat aye!) to learn how to test for visual acuity.

We've set up preliminary meetings with LDS English, Habitat for Humanity, BALSAMO, among others, and are waiting on some call backs. We're so excited for this amazing summer that we know we've gotten ourselves into.

Volunteers: Get ready for a blast, seriously. We'll see you soon, and get ready to get to work, 'cause we'll have stuff ready to kick your butts! Also, of course, in a good way.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Moving Right Along...

This year's team is getting ready for an awesome year. Many of our volunteers have raised more than half of their program fees already and the word is out that El Salvador is going to kick butt, and if the word isn't really out, well then it is now.

Since our Pupusa Party we've gotten together for a Culture Night, which was intended for the group to spend some time discussing the current situation in El Salvador, as well as standard things like recent history, safety, climate, travel, and everything in between. We also had the chance for all but a couple of our volunteers to be in the same room together, which was an awesome experience.

We love our group already, and have begun trying to best get everyone together. As a help we've put together a YouTube Channel and encourage our team to post regularly videos that we can connect to. We'd love all of you to introduce yourselves to each other, and I guess the YouTube world. Some have already done this. Check out our Channel!

As one of the Country Directors I can't express how excited I am, nor can I relate how awesome our volunteers are this year. I'm expecting to be overly impressed and have no expectations for this year's programs because I know any expectations I could have would be surpassed by this great group.

Quick updates:

We've secured Estella, the wonderful woman who cooked dinner for last year's group, so we will definitely not starve, quite the contrary I'd imagine!

Tyler & Juliann (the country directors) met with the president of FUDEM this week. FUDEM is one of our partners in El Salvador, and we're excited to work with them again this year. They have a really amazing Eye Clinic Outreach program (Ventanitas de Luz) that we will be able to be a huge support to.

We've begun collaboration as well with 2ft Prosthetics, and plan to implement a project providing an inexpensive option for under-the-knee prosthesis for Salvadoran amputees. The network of partners in El Salvador grows everyday, we're excited about the huge prospects of this project.

Projects are definitely not limited to just these, and our volunteers have already impressed us with their motivation to get to work even before traveling to El Salvador, our team members will step foot in country in only three weeks!