Helping can be a tricky business. You need to know what you’re doing and ask questions.
Since I arrived, I’ve been struck by the generosity of the Salvadoran people and have wanted to share things with them that my wife and I make at home. I brought canned blueberries to make muffins but the house here lacks an oven. I was going to make the toffee that we make at Christmas, but some ingredients were difficult to source. Finally, I thought of clusters made from chocolate melted in the microwave mixed with peanuts and raisins and then dropped in bite size morsels on a cookie sheet to cool. I decided the occasion to make them would be a fund raiser to be held this week at the school during the Father’s Day Celebration. Little sales of food are a common way to raise funds. I would donate the candies and they could set the price.
The people here could not understand what I was talking about making, so I bought ingredients to make a test batch to show them. All of the ingredients could be found but the chocolate cost two to three times as much as in the US. Even though I’ve seen chocolate growing on trees here, they export it for production. I have to purchase Hershey’s chocolate chips imported from the US.
Undaunted (as usual) and full of a desire to help, I went forward with making the test batch. The teachers loved them. “Que rico!” (How rich!) was the verdict. They asked how much to charge for them at the fund raiser. I deferred to them and also asked if there was a cheaper source of chocolate. The teachers talked amongst themselves in rapid Spanish and then one turned to me and explained, “The chocolate is a nice idea but very expensive. We appreciate you wanting to help but we would have to charge a dollar for a couple of these treats. That is a lot of money to these girls. If you really want to help, you could donate $10 and we could use the money to buy a fruit salad the girls could afford.”
Sure, they could have sold the candy for less money but that may have had problems also. In the end, I thought it best for me to observe the local customs and traditions and gave $10 for the fruit salad. Before we go ahead and help, we always need to make sure that the help we plan to give is the help that is needed. And the fruit salad was Que rico”.