Before I launch into an explanation of our projects, I want to acknowledge several large donations we recieved this week. First, a $3,000 donation from the SHARE foundations was transfered to NGO Mujeres Transformando in nearby Santo Tomas. This enabled us put 100 families in a food aid program with CONFRAS (Confederations of Agrarian Reform Cooperatives). Mercedes and Beth's truck will deliver food grown by Salvadoran cooperatives. Double Whammy! Food for those who need it AND a boost to the local economy.
Big thanks to Xavier College Prep Highschool in California and St. Peter's Catholic School in Kansas City MO. Each of these schools organized HUGE fundraisers for Salvadorans! Obviously, I was blown away by the sheer $ amount of the fundraiser. However, more amazing I think is the solidarity and energy it took to organize something like that. The Media, NGOS, The World Food Program, and the Government all seem to have forgotten about Salvadorans affected by the storm. It is a bright light of hope for Salvadorans to know that students far away have not forgotten them. Mercedes is constantly excited at how many new friends El Salvador has made in the wake of the disaster. What a different world we would have if humanity always did this kind of stuff for each other...
I hope to get out an e-newsletter to all those who donated before Christmas (altho I wanted to send one out Dec. 7th...things have been nuts as always!)
However, I wanted to inform you of our direction as we moved towards reconstruction. Please feel free to email questions/suggestions/comments at email@example.com....
Preliminary Project Ideas: FRIENDS OF SANTIAGO TEXACUANGOS.
Summary: Heavy rains in El Salvador on November, 7th 2009 killed over 190 poor Salvadorans and have left 15,900 homeless. Friends of Santa Maria of Santiago Texacuangos wish to express their solidarity. Santa Maria as well as 20 other communities in the area are organizing their own recovery, we are ready to pitch in. We have come along way in the past month, mostly organizing immediate food and water relief. We have called every NGO we can, and traed to access government aid. We suceded in including 500 families in aid program with the World Food Program for 30 days starting December 15th. We estimate nearly 700 families need food that are NOT included in the program. We are trying to organize commnity to access aid in terms of repairing water, electricity, schools, and housing from the government. We want to focus our funds on immedite and life threatening needs (food and water) as well as programs that the government will not cover (like psychological attention). There is no local NGO in the municipality of Santiago Texacuangos. Our budding organization is all these people have. We promise to do the best we can with the resources we have.
• FOOD SECURITY: This program would consist in filling the primary and urgent food and water needs of the communities (500 families) who are not covered by the World Food Program or covered by other NGOs. While we work to find institucional aid for these communities, we will fill immediate food needs. The second phase of this program would include workshops, technicians, fertilizar and other inputs needed to revive the agricultural systems destroyed in the hurricane. We will focus on organic agricultura, as it will simultaneaously stimulate local economic growth, reduce crop loss vulnerability as organic systems tend to withstand climatic stress, and will empower the community with new knowledge and tools to feed their familias.
Aproximate Duration: around 12 months (until next years harvest)
Methodology: Contract CLUSA (or another NGO if we can find a cheaper alternative) to assess crop damages and select the farmers who are in most need and most likely to succeed in the program (community leaders will help with selection: the idea is that if we cannot afford to support ALL farmers, we will Stara with those who are most likely to share knowledge and experience with others, thus multiplying impact of the Project. CLUSA will send a technician 2 days a week, and will run workshops about organic fertilizar, organic marketing, how to plan which crops where etc. The focus of the agricultura will be hedging risk for future climate stress, which will include building “live barriers” such as izote plants, to hold soil roots in a way the PREVENTS further landslides tos ave both crops, lives, and homes.
Proposal: $500/ farmer. We would like to begin with 50 farmers, which would cost $25,000. We are currently looking into alternatives for other programs that may cost less.
Program Supervisor: Beth Tellman, Sara Garcia
Program Counterpart: CLUSA? UNES?
• TRAUMA THERAPY: This program include therapy and psychological attention for inhabitants of communities affect by hurrican IDA, with the objective of helping people overcome post-event trauma. A team of psychologists and social workers will assess emocional health of the community and implement intervention work in groups. The goal is to move community members from being victims of a tragedy to becoming agents for change, uniting the community in a desire to work together.
• Metholodology: In addition to crisis intervention therapy (which lasts about 4 weeks), we hope to work for 6 months in a process of social-cultural animation. This would form a group of 20 representatives from 4-5 communities near santa maria. This would create a micro-region of communties who have leaders trained in emocional health in order to accompany thier own communities. This will also add to community resilience and adaptive capactiy in future disasters.
Project Duration: 6 months
Project Leader: Dany Portillo from CRISOL (Solidarity Group in Response to Crisis Intervention) , Support from Quino Caso Foundation (Jonathan Velásquez)
Presupuesto: $4,000 (to pay psychologists and social workers and for materials for workshops and intervention)
• COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION AND RISK MANAGEMENT: This program consists in organizing communities with a special attention to risk management. This program includes leadership workshops for local community leaders, a disaster prevention comité to prepare communities for future disaster with emergency planning, and democratic participation and political empowerment. The objective is to teach communities how to help themselves by contact internacional NGOs, manage community funds, and organize and demand aid from local government. This serves as a basis for community growth, and will be essential in maintaining good data collection (familia surveys, medical needs, setting and measuring reconstruction goals etc.)
Estimated Time: At least 4 months (would like to extend depend on success and available funds)
Methodology: Organize community meetings, leadership workshops with Mercedes. Send disaster comité members to other NGOs with experience in disaster prevention and risk management to aid in disaster emergency planning. Run surveys to identify and prioritize community needs. This will help monitor success of all projects, and serve as a platform for accessing aid from the local government (which is the only route to access internacional aid distributed by the goverment)
Project Leader: Mercedes Monge (community leader with experience in community organizing with Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, and Oscar Romero
(Mercedes’ salary will be set at 250/month. Other 100/month includes communication with cellphone, transportation, and workshop materials and fees)