Thursday, September 15, 2011

Final Bean Delivery Report for Compañeros and friends


Corozal - way too cute!!

Santa Cruz

Casa de Zacate

Rio de los Bueyes
September 14, 2011
What a time it has been!  We delivered the last of the beans to Colón and Las Delicias on Tuesday the 13th of September.  From here we are preparing the final financial reports and the data from all the deliveries.   I will share in this general report the data – but not the financial information for each partner church.  They will get that information privately.  But there is still a lot I can share.  I will give you the bottom line numbers – they amazed me.  Due to the generosity of many – many families are planting right now!

San Francisco
El Recreo
Casa de Zinc
Casa de Zacate
San Isidro
Tablón Centro
Tablón Cerna
San Felipe Arriba
La Llanes
San Felipe Pajuilar
El Guarumo
La Mediagua
San Lorenzo
El Jicaro (mujeres)
Santa Cruz
Las Perlitas (Grupo de mujeres)
Rio los Bueyes
This list has the names of each community or group receiving the beans.

This also lists the number of families who received a bean packet.

Not everyone received the same quantity of beans: it depended upon the funds that arrived, the quantity of families in each community and/or the average size of the land people have to work with in their community. 

Here is a summary:

24 Communities/groups served

970 Families received beans from this effort

28,000 pounds of beans were purchased
91 cents per pound for the beans is $25,480

$1 per 100 pounds for transportation is $280
Equals a grand total of $25,760.00

Partner churches had funds in their accounts here and/or sent funds for this effort.
Many individuals and un-partnered churches sent funds for this effort.

We want to express our sincere gratitude on behalf of the families who have received the beans. 

Here is what I call a God moment:  I was literally typing this last sentence when Blanca walked in the office with a letter she had written.  I think I will end this ‘report’ with that message from the Pastoral Team followed by some photos.

Spanish first:

Berlín 14 de septiembre, 2011
Cada uno de según lo que decidió personalmente y no de mala gana o la fuerza.  Pues, Dios ama al que da con corazón alegre.  (Segunda corta a los Corintios Capitulo 8, versículo 7).

Como nos hubiera gustado que todos los que dieran sus donaciones para la compra de frijoles pudiera haber estado durante la entrega a cada familia para que pudieran ver la felicidad, la alegría de cada personal que los recibía.  En cada rostro podíamos ver al agradecimiento por este regalo.

Como mostrar nuestro agradecimiento a Dios en primer lugar y a ustedes hermanos y hermanas que con sus donaciones hicieran posible que muchas familias pobres pudieran tener frijoles para poder sembrar en ese año.  De parte de cada familia beneficiaria; muchísimas gracias y que Dios les bendiga y le multiplique sus bienes materiales y espirituales ahora y siempre.

“El hambre compasivo será bendito: supo compartir su pan con el pobre.” (Proverbios 22:9)

Que importante en la vida sentirse parte de una misma familia, hijos de un mismo Dios en donde no hay envidias, mentiras, odias, desigualdades.  Que hermosa cuando los hombres y mujeres, niños y jóvenes, ancianos – nos unimos nos solidarizamos con los que están tristes, con los que lloran, con los enfermos, con los que no tienen nada.

Todos somos importantes en la vida.  Todos tenemos misiones diferentes pero  con un mismo fin: construyen un mundo diferente donde reine la justicia, la igualdad, la libertad, el amor.

“Todos los que habían creído vivían unidos compartían todo lo que tenían.  Vendían sus bienes y propiedades y repetían después el dinero entre todos según los necesidades de cada uno.”  (Hechos 2:44-45)

A esta estamos llamados cada día a vivir como los primeras comunidades.  Jesús espera por ti y por mí.  Ya comenzamos, debemos continuar.

Saludos y abrazos de las comunidades de Berlín.
El Equipo Pastoral

Now in English:

Each one, according to his personal decision, and not reluctantly or with force for God loves a cheerful giver. (Shortened Corinthians Chapter 8, Verse 7).

We wished for each of you that gave donations for the purchase of beans that you could have been here during the delivery to each family so you could see the happiness and the joy of everyone who received them. In every face we could see the appreciation for this gift.

How to show our gratitude?  To God first and then to you brothers and sisters with your donations that make it possible for many poor families to be able to plant beans for this year. On behalf of each beneficiary family, thank you very much and may God bless and multiply your material and spiritual wealth now and forever.

"A compassionate man shall be blessed; he knew how to share his bread with the poor." (Proverbs 22:9)

How important in life to feel as a part of a family, as children of one God where there is no envy, lies, hate, inequality.  How beautiful when men and women, children and youth, the elderly – we join in solidarity with those who are sad, those who week, the sick, those who have nothing.

We are all important in life.  We all have different missions but with a common goal: to build a different world where there is justice, equality, freedom, love.

“All who believed were together and shared everything they had.  Selling their goods and properties, they gave to everyone all according to their need.”  (Acts 2:44-45)

To this we are called to live each day as the first communities lived.  Jesús waits for you and me.  Since we started, we must continue.

Greetings and hugs from the communities of Berlín.
The Pastoral Team

The Family Agriculture Plan gave away 95,000 bean packets the beginning of August.  This number was cut from the 325,000 corn/fertilizer packets last April!

Considering about 40% of the 6.5 million (ish) inhabitants live and work in rural areas, that quantity does not nearly cover the needs of all the subsistent farmers.   We’re talking conservatively 2 million subsistent level farmers. 

So folks knew the Agricultural Packet of beans was coming the beginning of August. They were told they had to call the number (advertised on TV) and if their name was on the list, they had to go to Usulután to pick up the packet. This detail alone prevented many people from getting their beans even if they were on the list: losing a day of work as well as having to pay $5 transportation to/from and cost of food because it would be an all-day task. So some people may have been on the list, but in reality did not receive their bean packet from the government.

And as we learned … most people’s names were NOT on the list.  WHY people were on the list and others not, well, there has been no answer. Speculation yes - everyone has their theory - it's all a political game says Blanca.

Media Agua

Media Agua

Media Agua

Jicaro Women's Group

Sorry ... this has nothing to do with beans ... just too cute for words - life in a canton!

San Felipe Pajuilar

San Felipe Pajuilar

San Felipe Pajuilar



Las Delicias

Las Delicias
Las Delicias

Las Delicias


La Llanes

La Llanes



Every community!

Some immediately started to sort and clean the beans to plant!

On the way to Colon ... someone already planting amidst the doubled over corn stalks

Amen and amen and thank you

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 3, 2011 – Surviving the First Week of Bean Delivery

This has been a full week of activity.  You saw the prior report of the purchase of beans – now I’d like to share a bit of our deliveries so far. 

On Saturday the 27th of August, I picked up our two delegates from the Compañeros group.  We didn’t let them rest for very long.   After a relatively lengthy meeting on Sunday morning, we had a bite to eat and started right in on deliveries.  

Each day we visited at least two communities.  One day we actually managed to deliver to four.  We planned the routes logically: according to their proximity to each other.  Most of the communities were asked to seek out their own transportation – our little pick up can’t handle TOO much weight.   Also, asking communities to find their own transportation is a way in which the Directiva (Elected City Council) can participate in the process.   And most communities have someone who has a vehicle.  If there were not many recipients – we just used the house pick up and did not charge transportation fees. 

Here was our schedule this week:
Sunday morning: meeting. 
Sunday afternoon: Media Agua (38 families/25# each) and San Lorenzo (13 families/25# each)
Monday morning: meeting. 
Monday afternoon: Corozal – Canton farthest from Berlín (32 families/40#, 27 families/15# each)
Wednesday morning: El Tablón Centro (84 families/40# each, 2 families/15# each), El Tablón Cerna (40 families/40# each), and Santa Cruz (41 families/25# each). 
Wednesday afternoon: El Recreo (78 families/20.5# each) followed by a meeting.
Thursday morning: Community Wide bi-monthly meeting at the Pastoral House
Thursday afternoon: Casa de Zinc (13 families/40# each, 3 families/15# each), Casa de Zacate (16 families/40# each, 7 families/15# each), San Isidro (22 families/40# each, 26 families/15# each)
Friday morning: La Llanes (11 families/40# each, 5 families/15# each), San Felipe (18 families/25# each)
Friday afternoon: Alejandria (30 families/25# each) and we got back to the house early to rest (but I’m typing this report!) 508 families received beans.  14,924# of beans.  (Forgive my math if I added wrong!!) 

In the communities where there is a partner church and when we received sufficient funds, the families who did not receive the governmental agricultural assistance received 40# (a “medio” which is a standard measure here). The families who did receive the governmental assistance were supplemented with 15# to bring them on an equal level with the others.   A medio will cover about half a ‘manzana’ which equates to about ¾ of an acre.  We asked one of the farmers how much could potentially be harvested with 40# of seed.  He said about 2 sacks – which is about 400# of edible bean.  

In the communities where there is no partner church, we had to work with funds that came in from a variety of sources: individuals, churches who are not partnered, foundations, Rotary Clubs, etc.  Some of those un-partnered communities received the 40/15# combination.  Some communities received 25# each.  The quantity of families in need was a factor (it is easier to accommodate a community of 20 or less with 40#).  Another factor for a community who only received 25# would be the average size of the plot of land the people work.  For example, in Alejandria, the majority of the farmers only have a half manzana.  So 25# would cover that space sufficiently.

The process of delivery is basically the same as any church gift: we are provided a hand written list from the Directiva of a community.  I type it into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with space for signatures.  The Pastoral Team verifies the names on the list; comparing it to a community census to make sure there is no duplication (for example: a list with a parent and 2 or 3 sons living in the same house).  The idea is one per family.  They did catch a couple of cases with that kind of duplication.  The problem with duplications is a matter of ‘fairness’ – if we allow this for one family, why aren’t the other 8 families with 3 sons getting the same?  We just can’t afford to do that.  But this is not a ‘new’ concept.  Any help that comes is ‘one per family.’   

Now we have our verified lists.  The Team calls a member of the Directiva to set a delivery date and time.  The Directiva informs the beneficiaries and instructs them to show up at the determined time.  The Directiva is charged with finding transportation to get the beans from the Pastoral House to the community.  Often there is a truck within their own community that they can contract.  The Directiva finds community helpers to come to the house to help load.  In a couple of cases, community members even came to the house to help weigh and measure beforehand.  (Remember that we bought the beans in 100# sacks so they needed to be divvied up into 40, 25 and 15 pounds sacks).

The Pastoral Team and I drive out separately so the community truck does not need to bring us back to Berlín.  

Once in the community a Directiva member (usually the president, but not always) speaks to the crowd to explain the gift and express their gratitude.  They also take this time to explain that they are collecting a little to cover the cost of transportation.  It is usually minimal: 25 or 50 cents per family depending on the type of truck needed which depends upon the quantity of beans being transported.  Larger communities need a larger truck.

A member of the Pastoral Team speaks to explain how we are able to provide this help due to the efforts of MANY people in the States who have concern for their well-being. 

We then give the list to a member of the Directiva to call names and obtain either a signature or the fingerprint of each recipient.  This ensures we don’t miss anyone.  Community folks help hand out the bean sacks. 

While this is happening, the Pastoral Team typically chats with people off to the side and I take photos and interact with the children. 

The Pastoral Team tries to engage the community leadership – this is part of their function in general, but it also is a visible sign to the community that their leadership is working on their behalf.  This is always a part of the orientation in a community.  When invited to a ‘general assembly’ meeting where all are present, the Pastoral Team tries to remind the families of their responsibility to support the Directiva: the people they voted in as their leadership.  And when necessary, if a Directiva asks, the Team repeats this when there is a donation and everyone is gathered.

 A beautiful story:  In Media Agua, they discovered 3 names were inadvertently left off the list.  So Blanca came up with a possible solution – each beneficiary could share so that everyone would have beans to plant.  Everyone in the crowd nodded in agreement to this idea.  (See the photo of the man with the scale).  Immediately, the secretary of the Directiva did the math and figured that 2 pounds from each would cover those missing names!  So out came the scales and as sacks were given to each family, they paused to give their share so the families accidently left off the list would benefit as well.  And yes … we could have gone back to the Pastoral House and grabbed 3 more bags.  However – this was an opportunity for a community to resolve a problem on their own – with everyone participating in the solution.  The woman in red above was a cheerful giver.   It really was quite beautiful.
At the bean distributer's warehouse checking out the quality

Oscar pulling apart a bean to find where it is 'born'

Cecilia paying ... Mauricio counting every bill

"Will that be credit card ma'am?"

Loaded by 2 men at the distribution warehouse

Enjoying the ride from San Miguel back to Berlin

At the Pastoral House getting ready to unload

Oscar from Santa Cruz helping out

Cecilia is thin but MIGHTY

The stack of beans getting tall!

Ismael from La Llanes helping out!

Even Alisha schlepped bags from the truck in the garage to the Chapel

Vidal from El Tablon helping out

Idalia ... a woman of great strength

Papa Antonio and his sons Raul, Vidal and Cruz - our faithful driving crew