Cookies, Water, Stoves and Corn

“There is not even water to drink!” (Numbers 20:5)

In January 2013, Rabbi Soffin went with Suzanne and Sean, young members of our Grant-making Committee, to visit the 2013 grant recipients in Guatemala and Honduras.

In Guatemala City, we met with Chuck of Plenty International who showed us how they were providing nutritious, high-protein cookies and soy drinks. We watched hundreds children and the elderly, who live above the old dump, come happily to the Center to receive them. Everyone was treated with loving care as members of the family.

We were told that we were the first group to go to Guatemala ourselves to see the situation there.

Open Fire Cooking

Indoor Open-Fire Cooking

Later, Efrain of Hunger Relief International (HRI) drove us to the village of LA46, an extremely poor area, inhabited by some 160 families, 600 people. There we met with several of the women. We had already decided to fund 20 fuel- efficient stoves and stove pipes. So we asked the women: “How can we help you?” To our surprise, they said: “Water. We have no water.”

The rainy season there is short, and this year there was no rain at all. There is a polluted stream miles away. Sometimes, the Mayor sends a tank full of water to them. Two tanks a week is enough, but he had sent only one two weeks before and then none last week. So, indeed, they had no water and like the Israelites in the Wilderness, they said: there is not even water to drink!

So we made an arrangement with the Mayor: if he would send one tank each week, JHH would pay for the second one. And, we would pay for 10 stoves, each one to be shared by two or three families. Now there would be much less wood needed (which they have to buy) and many fewer children and women suffering and dying from respiratory problems and burns, caused by the smoke of the indoor open fires. The Mayor quickly agreed, and now there is water in LA46.

After Suzanne’s return visit in July, HRI is proposing for 2014 a long-term solution to the water problem with our help and that of the Mayor. The Grant-making committee will make the final decision.

New Stove

New Efficient Stoves

From Guatemala, we flew to Honduras and met Angela, who, with her husband Shmuel, founded Light of Esperanza (Hope). She brought us to the village of Vega Redonda, where she was born and where her family still lives. We met the young boys, ages 13 to 17, who would join together to create a Corn Cooperative, under the direction of adults from the village. After a three year training, they would be helped to create their own corn business.

Corn Cooperative - Vega Redonda

First Corn Crop

As Shmuel later wrote to us, “the youth of the Cooperative are the pride of Vega Redonda! Everyone is talking about how incredible it is that they have this thriving business! Despite their young age, they have easily absorbed all of the agricultural and entrepreneurial advice provide by our organization, and have demonstrated that they are more than capable to manage a successful business enterprise.“

None of these young men had more than a sixth grade education, having to stop their studies to work on the coffee farms and to do other meager income-generating activities. It would be possible for some of them to continue their studies on the weekends in a special enrichment program. We are subsidizing the annual per student school costs of $500 for each of two students, Delmar and Melvin. (Interviews with Melvin and the four others on the cooperative are at  http://lightofesperanza.com/Cooperative_Project.php middle of the Light of Esperanza website.)

kid

Delmar

Delmer commented that he knows that he will have a bright future upon completion of his studies, and is focused on a professional career in business administration. He is very excited to study computers – as he has never before had the chance to use one, and has only seen one from a distance. Delmer also remarked that ever since Jewish Helping Hands came to visit Vega Redonda in January of 2013, he has been very excited to learn English so that the next time that we visit he will be able to communicate with us.

How To Help This Program:

Guatemala: Enable more safe stoves to be built ($250 each) or clean water to be available to poor women and their families. ($2500/year)

Honduras: Provide an annual scholarship for Delmar or Melvin ($500 each) or contribute to the cost of the Corn Cooperative ($1500/year).

Show these youth that we are eager to help them create a better future for themselves, their families and their community.