Williams Isidro Saravia, 30, shows the processed cocoa (in tablets used to make hot cocoa) he sells in his hometown Los Jicaros, just outside of San Miguel, El Salvador. (Photo by Oscar Leiva Marinero for Lutheran World Relief)

Instead of migrating, Central American father finds hope at home

Williams Saravia was desperate. Earning just $6 a day as a farm laborer in El Salvador simply wasn’t enough to feed his family of four. With no other jobs available, Williams felt he only had two options: stay in his homeland, living in dire poverty as his family suffered from hunger, or try to migrate to the United States — leaving his family and loved ones behind.

As we learned this summer, from the photos of a young Salvadoran father and his 2-year-old daughter washed up on the banks of the Rio Grande, the journey north is fraught with risk. And it can end in tragedy.

But your compassion and generosity provides a third choice for fathers like Williams: opportunity.

Williams Isidro Saravia, 30, talking about how he makes processed cocoa (in tablets used to make hot cocoa) he sells in his hometown Los Jicaros, just outside of San Miguel, El Salvador. (Photo by Oscar Leiva Marinero for Lutheran World Relief)

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From day laborer to cocoa entrepreneur

Just a year ago, Williams was unable to afford to complete a college education, so he took a job as a farm laborer, working from sunup until sundown.

But the entire trajectory of Williams’ life changed when he enrolled in a diploma program designed to prepare young farmers to be the next generation of entrepreneurs in El Salvador’s burgeoning cocoa industry. The program integrates training in cocoa cultivation, business management and life skills, like decision making, problem solving and critical thinking.

Williams’ tuition was covered entirely by the generosity of people like you. Today, Williams is running a successful small business making and selling tablets for hot chocolate. He buys fermented cocoa beans, toasts them, grinds them and mixes them with sugar and spices to make a delicious product. His wife, Margarita, and children, 11-year-old Williams and 6-year-old Merci, help to package the chocolate tablets. The tablets have been so popular that Williams produces a fresh batch almost daily to meet demand.

“This has gotten this migrating idea out of my head since I know there’s opportunity here in the country,” he says.

(Williams wasn’t the only family you touched with your generosity. Some of his classmates have also been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Read how your support inspired them.)
 

Williams poses with his wife, Margarita Saraí Parada, 28, son, Williams Emerson, 11, and Mercy Saraí, 6, holding the chocolate tablets the couple now produces to support the family. (Photo by Oscar Leiva Marinero for Lutheran World Relief)

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Hope at home

Because of you, initiatives like the cocoa program are saving people across El Salvador and in many other countries. By learning new skills, hardworking parents are finding the road to self-sufficiency and building better lives for their families. Your generosity helps people in El Salvador — and other developing nations worldwide — lift themselves out of poverty.

No one should have to endanger themselves or their children to feed and provide for their families. Will you help us provide even more families with hope at home?

 

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