MISSION / VISION
‘Homes for Hope’ is a non-profit, non denominational organization dedicated to improving the lives of families in El Salvador. Through the support of volunteers and donations from local Canadians, we provide safe and secure housing, by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. Our mission is to provide hope while improving the quality of life and providing lasting economic change for families and the community. We do not discriminate based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, veteran status, disability or other characteristic protected by law. '
Since 2005, a group of citizens from Southwestern Ontario have been travelling to the country of El Salvador to build homes for the impoverished. Our mission is to provide much needed aid after hurricanes and volcanic activity left considerable damage in their wake. We have concentrated our efforts on a tiny community just west of San Salvador called Las Lajas. Our teams construct new homes for families, distribute donated clothing, medicine and school supplies, and most importantly, provide a sense of hope for the future. Nick Wouters from St. Marys Ontario, is one of the founding members whose first trip to El Salvador was in 1997. He and Keith Fawcett, of St. Marys, organized the trips for many years, although Keith has since "retired". Stepping into his place is Pamela Wulff of London Ontario.
In that first year, a team of 7 people went down for 2 weeks and built 7 houses. We presently have grown to 3 teams of 11 people each, travelling annually. On average, Homes for Hope is building 30 homes per year in the community of Las Lajas. Recruitment has come via word of mouth, with team members from London, St Marys, Stratford, Exeter and the surrounding area.
The houses that families are currently living in are made from very basic materials that were gathered from the area: wood, scraps of metal, sheets of plastic, stones, etc.
The houses that we build are made of steel framing, siding and roofing. We originally purchased prefab house kits from a company in San Salvador. Each house costs approximately $3000 USD.
Over the years we were constantly reviewing our costs and trying to find ways to make our dollar go farther. We investigated the possibility of constructing the house kits ourselves. This option brought the cost of a house down to approximately $1900 USD. A substantial savings which allows us to build more homes and provide local employment. In June of 2009, we initiated and completed the setup our own micro-factory within the village of Las Lajas. We trained several local citizens how to produce the house kits, and they work on this during the off-season of coffee production. In 2021, the price of materials had increased sharply and our costs to build has increased as well.
Families qualify for a house by going through an application process. Each family receiving a house is obligated to participate in its construction. Upon completion of the house, the family is presented with keys to their new home.
We have developed a close partnership with the Lajamaya Coffee Cooperative in Las Lajas, and the citizens of the communities we serve. They assist with local transportation, translators, accommodation and meals. Both the Canadians and the Salvadorans have benefitted from our involvement in this community: the experience we receive living and working with them, and the hope they receive knowing others care.
We receive many requests for additional projects. Our latest project has been the repairs to a natural spring water supply. The original pipes were damaged during an earthquake and the funds were not available to fix it. It sat unused for may years. In early 2019 we initiated the purchase of materials and labour to get this functioning. It now produces water for the communities of Las Lajas with minimal cost for maintenance
The group does all their own fundraising and 100% of the money raised goes toward the communities of Las Lajas. All administration work is done on a volunteer basis and the travellers pay for all their own costs, including their flight and meals.
We are a registered Canadian charitable organization and we do not receive funding from any company or the government. We therefore rely heavily on donations from friends, family and the public. Donations over $25 will receive a tax receipt from Homes for Hope El Salvador.