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Changing Salvadoran lives for the better

Experiencing first-hand the work of our clients around the world

Jenn Kirkland, travel consultant at our Canadian office in Abbotsford, traveled to El Salvador in the spring of 2014, to experience first-hand the work of one of her long-time clients, Shelter. It turned out being an intense week, leaving a lasting impression on her.

Shelter is a Canadian organization that focuses on providing homes to Salvadoran families in need. In 2000 and 2001, a series of earthquakes shook the country. While large parts of its population were already in poverty, the devastation that ensued left a lingering burden on its people. Still today, many people are displaced and go without adequate food and housing.

“It was an amazing privilege. I’ll never forget that day.”

Jenn Kirkland, Raptim travel consultant

“I traveled to El Salvador in April,” Raptim travel consultant Jenn says. “My trip left me with a huge sense of understanding, appreciation and awe for what Shelter is all about. I met some of the families that received housing and learned a bit about their lives. Many times, I was thankful to have sunglasses on so that I could hide my tears. The stories I heard and the things I saw blew my mind.”

“The first house we visited belonged to a man that many of the guys recognized, because he works as a security guard at the local gas station where the building team would pop in to get ice cream,” Jenn recounts. “He lived in what can only be described as a room with walls on three sides. So – he, his wife and his two teenage daughters were completely exposed to the elements with no security of any kind.”

Another story that left a great impression on Jenn was sixteen-year-old Rita’s. Rita and her two-year-old daughter were moving into a house on her family-in-law’s property. “One of us asked Rita if she misses her family,” Jenn says. “She started crying and shared her life story with us.”

“Her parents took off to pursue a better life in the United States and left her and her sister with her grandparents when they were very little. She grew up unloved and ran away from home at age thirteen. That’s when she met her husband, who is an officer in the army and not home much, and had her daughter a year later.”

“She now lives in this small community, while her sister still lives on the other side of the country. I had the honor to present her with the key to her new home,” Jenn says. “It was an amazing privilege. I’ll never forget that day.”

Jenn says, “Shelter is making a difference that is very tangible. It was a real honor to meet all these folks face to face after years of helping them to arrange their air travel via phone and email. This experience helps me to know first-hand what our clients are doing in far-away places around the world.”

She adds, “I firmly believe that Raptim is making a difference. If I am having a tough day, I think of my trip and instantly remember that what we do matters in a very real way.”