Workshops for new income generation - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Summer 2021 newsletter


Ann Greig, El Salvador

Learning to take off the shells of cocoa beans at our chocolate-making workshop

Greetings from the Soy Workshop! I hope this finds you and your family enjoying the beauty of the summer months while remaining safe and healthy.

If there is one population here in El Salvador where almost everyone suffered during 2020, it is Salvadorans who are employed in the informal market. Since everyone is looking for opportunities or new ideas to generate income, our Soy Program decided to offer workshops to teach women new skills to create more family income.

Learning to dress a piñata

Due to the national reality, we still need to commit to hygiene protocol to protect ourselves from COVID. Therefore we limited the participation in the workshops to six beneficiaries. We are offering four workshops in 2021.

The instructors of the workshops are from a group called Collective Women of Zaragoza. The municipality of Zaragoza is located about one hour from the soy program. These women facilitate and share their knowledge and skills with the participants to increase family income. To me, this is a beautiful model of collaboration of mutual support between these two groups of women.

The first three months were dedicated to making chocolate from the cocoa bean. The participants learned the process:

  • toast the cocoa beans on a grill and remove the shells. The facilitators explained that it is difficult to remove the outside shell therefore must be done while warm.
  • mix the beans, sugar and cinnamon until moistened. Then take the mixture to be ground into a paste.
  • knead the chocolate mixture until it is soft and make the patties. Let them sit for 15 minutes and wrap in aluminum foil. They are now ready to sell.

To see the chocolate workshop in action, watch our short video on Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Instagram account. 

These workshops allow women in this sector to obtain skills and abilities to earn a living by learning a trade or culinary art with comprehensive and continuous demand. This encourages entrepreneurship to help the women out of economic dependence overcoming the exceptions of mere welfare.

Our second workshop is teaching how to make a piñata. We have already had two workshops; the first session covered how to design a piñata with wire and cover it with newspaper. The second workshop involved learning to dress the piñata. This process requires a lot of creativity and time. We will show you some photos of the finished Piñatas in our next newsletter!

I was pleased to hear that the participants of the chocolate workshop are receiving orders for chocolate. One of the participants, Marta, had a family member visiting her from the States who ordered chocolate to return to the States. Another one of the participants, Blanca, sells bread in the afternoons, and now she brings the chocolate and has clients asking for chocolate!

Guess our piñata shapes!

As with many places around, El Salvador continues to hold the majority of education classes online. Therefore, I want to say a special thank you to all for providing six months of Internet service for 20 students.

This support and solidarity provides these students with an opportunity to continue their education uninterrupted and to be able to have access to better employment opportunities.

One of my indicators for the economic situation here in San Ramon is the increase in the number of beneficiaries’ families. We have now added 10 more families to the program. We are so thankful, that with your generous support, we are able to feed more Salvadorans.

On a personal note, I am now fully vaccinated for COVID-19. I am currently home, visiting family in Florida. It has been five years since I have stayed with my sister and brother-in-law. So there has been a lot of catching up to do.

As always, I remain grateful for your continued support for my Soy Program ministry and sustenance. Your support and encouragement have been very beneficial during this unusually challenging year. They have enabled the Soy Program to provide this valuable workshop training and internet for education access. We are hopeful that this opportunity will make it possible for the participants to improve their quality of life.

Sending blessings and prayers,


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.