Greetings from the Soy Program - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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December 2020 newsletter


Ann Greig, El Salvador

Food package for Sra. Blanca Figueroa, beneficiary of the Soy Program

I hope that this newsletter finds all of you safe and adapting to our new normal.

There is no denying that 2020 has been one of the toughest, most challenging years for everyone: the spread of the virus, millions of deaths worldwide, high unemployment, and not being able to be with our loved ones to celebrate our lives. This pandemic has certainly reminded us of the importance of human contact for our lives.

Pope Francis offers an invitation in his new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, (Fraternity and Social Friendship), “I invite everyone to renewed hope, addressed to his brothers and sisters all.” What great timing for this encyclical and its call to all of us to work together and treat all people we encounter as our brothers and sisters.

Over the past 27 years, I have been reminded countless times of the faith and resiliency of the Salvadoran people. My hope is that their faith and resiliency will help them endure the current challenges and make progress in the new year.

Gustavo and Katerin Hernandez in the Valencia community receiving food baskets

The Soy Program distributed food packages for the last time this year to 75 families. Each time we distribute food, I visit with one of the families to get to know them better and understand the reality better.

In the photo above, Sra. Blanca is in her home; Blanca’s husband left her for another woman 10 years ago, leaving her with no financial support for herself and her three sons — Bryan (20 years old), Diego (17) and Rafael (13). Blanca had decided to open a small store in her home to support her family. She shared that she was able to buy products and cover most of her expenses, but then came the three-month quarantine and she did not have the money or transportation to buy more products. Blanca said, “I am grateful to the Soy Program for their solidarity and to the government, which provided food support.”

Thank you all for your support during this difficult year. Together with your support and solidarity, we have been able to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety during this year with COVID-19 and food insecurity.

To help some of the women in the program who are struggling to pay off debts and put food on their table, the soy program is going to provide, as a post-COVID response, workshops and training. They will be designed to support the women in producing products to sell and also provide them with a basic introduction to sales. We hope this will enable them to increase their family income as well as provide more variety to their clients.

The groups will be small to be able to comply with COVID safety and hygiene protocols.

We continue to receive more families into the Soy Program, which is due to the economy. Even though some of our beneficiaries have been able to return to their informal employment of selling fruit, vegetables, snacks or whatever, the recovery of the economy has been slow, and most of the Salvadorans say that their sales have decreased.

On a personal level, I am thrilled to have been able to return to my swimming routine; the pool now only allows one person per lane, which works fine!

I hope that you will be able to celebrate safe and happy holidays with your loved ones and be blessed with renewed hope this new year.

Know that you remain in my prayers and that I am eternally grateful for all your support.


Ann Greig
Ann Greig is the co-founder and director of the Health through Nutrition Soy Project in San Ramón, El Salvador. The project provides families with better health and nutrition as well as with education on health and social issues through workshops.