Lent 2021 newsletter
Ann Greig, El Salvador
I hope this newsletter finds you all well and safe as we patiently wait for the global health situation to improve.
We continue with our challenges with the COVID situation here in El Salvador, but, after an anticipated increase after the Christmas season, finally, cases are starting to decline. Like everywhere, we still have to continue to be vigilant with protective measures. The government recently announced that El Salvador will be receiving 324,000 of AstraZeneca and 52,480 of Pfizer vaccines, starting at the end of February. The priorities for distribution are the same as in the U.S.
Thankfully the Soy Program continues to receive our beneficiaries at the door. As always, I remain grateful to you all for your support for my ministry and my sustenance.
So what does a day in my life look like? I am a significantly early riser, getting up at 3:30 a.m. This allows me time for prayer/ reflection, swimming laps and returning to my apartment, before I leave for work around 7 to 7:30 a.m., depending on commitments.
I am very grateful to have my own transportation, a pickup (this vehicle is a gift of the participants of the 2005 Friends Across Borders immersion trip!)
Although I live only 5 miles from the soy plant, the main highway to arrive at the soya connects various parts of the country, and due to heavy traffic, it sometimes takes 20 minutes to cover the distance.
On this particular day, I had to buy and pick up supplies. Monday is our baking day, and the recipe was for banana-soy bread. Usually, I help with baking due to the quantity needed.
Salvadorans bring bananas down from the volcano and sell them at particular spots; I have been returning to Señora Verónica (see photo) because she not only has excellent bananas but has the quantity I need — around 150 bananas. There are various places where I purchase the different products for the weekly menu, baking supplies or other items required for soymilk production.
As some of you know, I currently have two employees: Carmen, who is in charge of soymilk production, and Susy, the cook. Although Susy is very organized and plans her time well, I also help with food preparation. A staff reduction two years ago increased my administrative work, but we function well as a team, sharing responsibilities.
The remainder of my day is a mix of administrative tasks, purchasing supplies in the central market or factories and helping to serve daily meals to the beneficiaries. I enjoy the diversity of tasks in my daily routine.
I usually arrive back at my apartment at 5:30 p.m., eat dinner, watch some national news, perhaps read for a little and am asleep no later than 8 to 8:30 p.m.
The Soy Program location in San Ramón is worrisome because we are located between two conflicting gangs — MS 13 Salvatrucha and 18 Revolucionarios. Our little sector here on our street is “neutral territory.”
I know that some of our beneficiaries have gang members in their family. To maintain peace, we never tell anyone they are not welcome. Thankfully, this approach has worked out well, and we have never been threatened.
The soy program is in an area with undependable water service: even though we have two large tanks and a large cement area with water, we always have to be vigilant and make sure we have extra.
I am delighted to announce that we will be starting back up with now-monthly workshops that will focus on post-COVID responses — to train and support women to produce products to sell and generate income to create more significant financial resources for their families. Options include products such as baked goods, jewelry and, embroidery. Including skills on how to operate a small business and selling opportunities. In the next newsletter, I will share the experience with you.
I pray that we all can celebrate — hopefully with family members — the joy of the resurrection! Happy Easter!