Today we went to celebrate the formal inauguration of the cooperative that has been formed in the canton of El Tablón Cerna. The co-op has been in the works for several years and just this year they began operations. They are raising hens for eggs, hens for frying, and bees for honey. We loaded up the pickup this morning around 8:30am to drive to El Tablón. It was a beautiful ride and many people’s first time in the back of the truck here in El Salvador.
When we arrived in El Tablón we saw that everything had been set up for the celebration. There were lots of balloons and chairs set up for everyone near the small school. A new sign had been put up about the project and those who helped make it a reality. The people of the co-op received help from the University of Central America (UCA), CARE, and PRODEMORO. Those last two are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) CARE is an international humanitarian organization for fighting poverty. PRODEMORO is the Rural Development Program for Eastern El Salvador.
As soon as we got out of the truck we walked down to see the chicken coops. I’ve been here a few times but I like to see what new things they’re doing and say hello to the chickens. The three-room building they’ve been constructing for an office, storage space, and slaughterhouse is nearly complete. The buildings for the hens that will be used for meat is finished but they’re still waiting for electrical hookup to be completed; there needs to be ventilation/fans so the fryer hens don’t get too hot.
Here’s a little information about the cooperative: The members of the co-op go into the hen houses twice a day to collect eggs. They have 425 chickens in one area and 450 chickens in another area. The chickens were $7 to purchase. They will lay eggs for about 80 weeks after which they will be sold for food. They eat about 50 pounds of food a day and always have water available. The eggs are harder to transport than the honey. And if they get a sick chicken they have to quarantine it to prevent the others from getting sick.
We didn’t get a chance to go see the bees but here’s a little info about them: There are 20 bee boxes in each of the five locations. You can distinguish somewhat a difference in the taste depending on where the honey is collected. They are able to collect 55 gallons of honey about two or three times a year from the hives. Everyone has been stung at least once by the bees and many like the bees more because they can see the results immediately. This is the first time anyone has ever raised bees and it was difficult to learn.
After seeing the chickens we wandered back up the hill to where the celebration was to be held. Everything was going to be starting soon so we found some seats. Kathy, as a representative of Heartland Presbyterian (El Tablón’s sister church) and a representative of the Pastoral House, got to sit up at the front. I went up to take of picture of the head table. Next to the table was a big sign about the co-op and El Tablón. I saw a picture of the students from the UCA and realized that I was also in the picture. Pretty cool! It was taken during the student’s second visit to the co-op and I’d gone with them.
Lots of clouds
Sign about the co-op
The buildings for the chickens
Walking down to see the chickens
The new buildings where the fryer chickens will be
Cleaning off eggs
Mountain in the distance
A yellow frog!
Two for one
A nance tree
Not quite ripe nances
Everything is set up
Sign about El Tablon
Can you find me?
Soon it was time for the program to start. Although several people spoke it wasn’t a long program. The rector from the University spoke first followed by a representative from both PRODEMORO and CARE, and then the president of the cooperative. All of their messages were similar. They thanked everyone involved for all the hard work they did to help with the project. This will not only help the members of the cooperative but also the greater community and the children in the community.
The speakers said it was important to take care of the cooperative that the community formed and how impressive it was that they were still functioning. Many co-ops and other groups get started but don’t stay together long. It has also been important that the students from the UCA, the city kids, get to know the community better. This helped them learn about the reality of life in the cantons. Less than an hour later the inauguration ended with a ribbon cutting.
We had a little snack after the celebration. Well, they said it was a snack but it was actually a sandwich, chips, a muffin, and a Coke. I ate the chips and the Coke but saved the rest for later since we were going to be eating lunch soon. We munched away and even watched a little bit of a fútbol game. At noon we said goodbye and headed back to the Pastoral House. I’m glad we had the opportunity to attend the ceremony and that the delegates got to know the co-op. Hopefully the co-op will inspire people in other communities to start similar projects.
A whole group of gringos
The celebration has begun
Members of the co-op
It's a tailgate party
Sitting in the truck
Checking under the hood
There are lots of butterflies
in the rainy season