Well, March has been a crazy month packed with trips and still has more to come! A couple of weeks ago my friend and I drove down to Chicago where she dropped me off at the airport and sent me on my way to Juarez, Mexico. I met up with my friend Sam at the airport in El Paso, TX, and from there we crossed the border into Mexico. I always love visiting Mexico. I have been traveling there since I was 8 years old. The people there are like family to me, and it definitely feels like my second home.
The summer after my freshman year at Hope I did a program called HEI (Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative). I spent time that summer helping to start gardens in Juarez, Mexico, at some community centers and orphanages. It was great to be back there this past week and not only see the gardens in full bloom, but to see two more start as well. The people have really taken ownership of the gardens and use the produce to feed the children that attend the after school programs.
This past May I was in Juarez with two other Hope students where we helped start a small business to generate profit for the ministry there. This was an update I wrote about our trip from May…
This trip has been such a blessing, and all praise goes to our loving Father, who has been working in the lives of the people here. Our group (3 Hope College students) came to Juarez with the hopes of starting a Mexican candy-making business to help Amigos en Cristo be more self sustainable. The profits of this business would go back into the ministry to help pay for children’s education.
The idea originally came from Doris as her family has been long involved in the Mexican candy business. Jamoncillo is a popular candy in Mexico that is basically made from milk and sugar, similar to American fudge. The candy has a high markup price and is a popular delicacy here in Juarez.
When we first arrived here at the beginning of May, Doris and her family had already prepared Jamoncillo samples for us to try. We began looking into this by conducting market research by visiting different candy stores both downtown Juarez and in Anapra. When we brought samples to the stores in Anapra, we found that the store owners were very excited about the possibility of selling the product.
While we are here we are working on assembling a budget and timeline to help start the business. We met with the Amigos en Cristo staff for their ideas and to conduct a branding workshop. We are still in the process of determining a name but currently the staff has come up with the name “Amistosas Deliciosas” (Friendly Delights-translates better in Spanish) and the slogan to accompany it is “Diseñado para compartir” (designed to share).
While we have been here we have gathered data of the supplies and materials needed and are currently working on assembling Excel sheets. We are so excited to see where God leads this project. Please join us in praying for God’s blessing on the ministry as well as this start up business.”
When I was in Mexico this past trip it was amazing to see the transformation taking place in the lives of people who worked at Amistosas Delicias. There are 3 young men (ages 17-20) who work there and used to be on the streets dealing drugs and involved with gangs but now they have a job and are living at the community center together. The kids love these guys and they have put a lot of work into the business. They had a pivot in their business where they changed from making jamoncillo to cookies now. They have a great process worked out now and are continuing to improve the business. The best part about continuously taking trips there is seeing the transformation in people’s lives. I also learn so much from the people there, and they continue to challenge and teach me. I’m excited to head back to Mexico in 3 days :]