Fuller Center for Housing Global Builders teams have made plenty of trips to work in El Salvador, but next week’s trip will be different — and that’s why Global Builders coordinator Allen Slabaugh will be tagging along with a group of eight Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers from the University of Cincinnati.
This team has the privilege of launching work on a 14-home community for the families of coffee farmers in the hills outside of Ahuachapan, in the western part of the country. Coffee farmers throughout Central America have been struggling in the past couple of years as higher temperatures have allowed coffee rust fungus to spread rapidly even in high altitudes, which makes this project even more important as the families cling to what’s left of their livelihoods.
“We’re going to be up in the hills and the mountains instead of on the beach, so it’ll be a little different scenery,” said Slabaugh, who leaves Saturday for the village. “We’ll be working on a coffee farm, building a 14-house project there. It’s an excellent location and absolutely beautiful from what I hear.”
One of the people he has heard that from is Fuller Center President David Snell, who was last there in September on a trip with Jeff Cardwell, a former Fuller Center board member who started the nonprofit People Helping People. PHP has a presence in Ahuachapan, where Lisselot Franceschi leads the organization’s work.
“Ahuachapan is a community outside of the hustle and bustle of San Salvador,” Snell said. “It’s mountain country near the coffee-growing area, so the climate’s a little more pleasant. It’s an old colonial town, and it’s rich with history and heritage. Where we’re working is actually in the coffee country outside of town. It’s very rustic with poor folks struggling to make a living growing coffee.”
Snell said PHP’s partnership and the determined work ethic of the coffee families have this project primed for success.
“There are a couple of things that make this site especially attractive for our work,” he said. “One is that we have an active partner down there in People Helping People — they are established, they know this community, they’ve been working in this community. As a matter of fact, they’ve succeeded in getting a well put in there.
“These families are workers and they understand what the program is,” he added. “They’re ready to help build their houses and ready to pay for their houses. Everything seems to be coming together for a great project.”