Connecting with the local people

Below: Elementary children practicing for a graduation ceremonyImage

Day 5
We met with several pastors and their families to discuss their needs and how we can assist. These compassionate leaders want to help the people in their villages but the needs far outweigh the resources. Education for the children is a top priority and the lack of English books – particularly English dictionaries – is a major issue. Being in the poorest of communities, the pastors also need additional income. So the sale of the jewelry made by their wives is critical to the ministry. Attended a service at one of the neighborhood churches with about 75 in attendance. There was music, sharing, and a lesson presented by a visiting minister as the mostly younger people listened attentively while the half dozen oscillating ceiling fans moved around the sweltering heat.

The  school that is attached to this church consist of three floors of concrete classrooms where it looks like serious maintenance stopped about ten years ago. The dwindling funds were dedicated to educating the children while the paint peeled off the walls and the desks broke and teaching supplies are now donated by the teachers. This church/school is financially struggling to continue to teach and inspire the people in this very poor community. There are large Catholic churches located in the more prosperous neighborhoods and the Mormons have a surprising opulent presence in many of the poor communities. However, we are working with the Christian churches who minister to poor families who live off the beaten path.

We met with eight of our artisans who handcraft the recycled paper jewelry. We shared new designs, the current color pallets, and techniques to make even better jewelry that will appeal to more people. Very talented women who love using their hands to create the jewelry.

It is an interesting thought to imagine how such a minor change such as higher wages create a better community all around. Increasing the standard of living opens the doors for all the building blocks to an essentially fulfilled life with education, income, and growth. The more people we meet the more inspired we get to make as big a difference as we can.

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