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El Salvador Project: Week Four

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

This week felt like a lot of running around and online work to prepare for the next phases of this project without a ton of progress on site. It's very challenging to be a little nonprofit in its growth stages!

We had marketing materials printed this week to help us fundraise, spread the word on how to make eco bricks, and also created some books to help schools implement eco bricks into an environmental lesson plan. So far we have two schools interested in helping us in San Salvador, the Upton Academy and the British Academy. Thanks to Jacqui Lang, the British Academy has already started the project and has 90 students involved. She told us we can expect to pick up the eco bricks the students make next month! Next week we are going to visit our local community schools in Playa Cangrejera where we live and San Jose Guayabal where the house is being built. We are looking forward to see what evolves from these school projects.

Progress on the worksite has been a little slower than we expected because things are more complicated in El Salvador than in the United States. Our laborers can't read or write and don't have cell phones so to check on them we have to go there in person...and it is a two-hour drive each way. This week we decided to invest in a cell phone to improve productivity levels and stay in the loop daily. When we visited on Friday they hadn't worked on the project at all since we were there last Friday working with them. It all felt pretty disappointing but we are learning as we go. We have realized that it is time to hire a couple more people for labor who will be able to work on a full-time basis and are on the search for people who have more construction experience.

We made a big decision this week in terms of how the house is being built. When Hilery was at the Green Building Academy they shared that tires were much easier to work with than earthbags. We had never heard that from anyone before and it didn't make a ton of sense to us. It seems to take more materials to fill them, requires two people per tire, uses more cob on the finishing layers, and a lot of intense work with the sledgehammer. Now that we are getting a full hands-on experience ourselves, we have realized that we would prefer to work with earthbags. Although we haven't had the opportunity to try it yet, all the research we have done says this will be a quicker and easier, less labor-intensive building method.

We think it may be less expensive as well. Even though the tires are free, we have to pay a truck driver to go pick them up and deliver them. It ends up costing about 75 cents a tire. For the foundation it has taken 5-6 buckets of gravel to fill each one and I was told it would take about three wheelbarrows of dirt to fill each one for the regular wall construction. The bags will cost 10 cents each and we are reaching out to the factory that prints them to see if we can get any misprints for free.

So once again, the concept house is changing! That is the whole point of this first house being a learning experience to allow us to discover what truly works best for us here in El Salvador. A fun part of building this way is that you really can reflect on how things are going and reassess strategies and materials along the way.

We also made a YouTube video in Spanish this week to help locals learn how to build a tire foundation on their own and are hopeful that it will help this building method have a ripple effect beyond the projects we can do ourselves.

It's funny how we felt pretty defeated this week with the lack of progress at the worksite but overall we made great progress and also started planning a really amazing fundraiser. It is a good reminder to pay attention to your accomplishments and not only to the end goal. A little progress every day is what can change the world!

Please donate to help us hire more help and divide new jobs and an excellent learning experience to members of our community!

1 Comment

Yvonne Lusetti
Yvonne Lusetti
Sep 12, 2023

This is excellent progress! So happy you did a Spanish YouTube! As always Gary and I continue to pray and send love to your Earth Home project!

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