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Reflecting on the impact of the trip | Nourish International

August 21, 2010 | Posted in 2010, Brown, Cornell, El Salvador | By

It’s been a little over five weeks since we returned from our project with FUNDAHMER. The time as gone very quickly and we’ve all seemed to re-adjusted to our lives. In about a week classes will begin; we’ll reunite with all our friends, most of which we’ve not seen since we we’ve returned from El Salvador. I wonder if we’re different from before the trip.

During the second half of our trip we partook in some really exciting events: we were in La Hacienda during the celebration of their patron saint, and on that day woke from the sound of firecrackers being set off to call everyone to the capilla (chapel). At the chapel we had quesadilla cake and coffee, followed my mass, then a community lunch a marathon of movies relating to El Salvador’s History, an inter-village  soccer tournament, and finally a dance at the elementary school! It was such a fun day! A few days later, we returned to San Salvador one weekend intending to visit the beach, but were prevented from doing so due to poor weather. Instead we visited el Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen, which had several very interesting exhibits about artists in El Salvador, and the University of Central America (UCA) and learned about the Jesuit martyrs who died their during the Civil War.

In considering the lasting impact our trip had; it would be so nice to see pictures of the gardens now. When we left all three were teeming with healthy seedlings. There was plague affecting the beans in Flor del Muerto if I recall correctly, and in Hacienda, some kind of insecto had carried away many of the rabino seeds, but other than that, most everything was growing well. I hope the communities are diligent about saving seeds and that each family eventually cultivates its own garden.

We visited a local elementary school two days during the project to discuss 1) the components of a balanced diet as well as its importance and 2) how to read a packaged food label. I wish we had prepared better for these activities, and that we had continued to prepare lessons for the school relating to nutrition. The language gap ended up being quite a bit wider than I had realized, preventing the students from understanding the lesson very well the first day. The situation had improved by the second day, so hopefully they found our discussion about fresh fruits and vegetables interesting.

The primary objective, to help construct three community gardens, was accomplished, but the impact of these gardens on community food security cannot yet be determined. When available, we hope to see an account from FUNDAHMER describing the yield of each garden, as well as an explanation of how produce is being used (specifically how much is going directly to feed families and how much is sold for profit). If some of the harvest is being sold, we’d be interested to know how much revenue has been generated and how the profits have been used. We would like to compare the initial costs of the materials and seeds for the garden to the product after one season.  Finally, we’d like to know how many families are benefiting from the garden’s production and how much money they are saving due to this source.
It was an amazing trip; I know that each of us learned a lot.

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