Every year, Tools for Opportunity tries to make one or two trips to Central America. During each trip, we have one or more trainers on our team to teach new woodworking skills to local craftsmen, carpenters, woodcarvers, and furniture makers.
Before each trip, there is an enormous amount of planning and preparation that needs to take place. The first item on the agenda is finding eligible craftsmen in our target areas such as El Salvador and Honduras. We have a local team member in El Salvador that interviews craftsmen to determine their eligibility for training and what specific training is needed. One of our board members annually visits Honduras for several weeks to work with local residents to find craftsmen that need our assistance.
While candidates for training are being selected, we work on gathering tool donations for shipment to the training areas. These tools can be donated by individuals or tool companies. We accept usable power tools like hand drills, routers, and circular saws. We also try to gather as many hand tools as possible such as chisels, clamps, carving tools, and hand planes.
If we are lacking any necessary tools for training our carpenters, we must purchase them. We’ll search around for the best pricing and look to tool manufacturers that are wanting to get rid of old stock. Sometimes, we’ll wait and purchase tools in the host country if the prices are reasonable.
Our tool shipments are sent by cargo ship to the target location many months ahead of time. The tools are stored until they’re needed for training.
In the meantime, travel arrangements need to be made for our team. This includes air fare, lodging, and food. As you can imagine, these expenses add up fast.
Once our team arrives in-country, the work begins. Classes are held that may have anywhere from 4 to 12 students. These students could be young people that have had some technical training and want to expand their skills. Other students have been woodworking for many years but need to advance their skills to the next level.
We’ll typically spend a week conducting 2 to 4 training sessions during that time. Once the training is complete, the students sign a contract with Tools for Opportunity. They agree to use our donated tools and training and their time on projects for their community, in addition to growing their business to provide income for their families. Many of these families survive on only a few dollars a day. We try to help the carpenters increase their income through our training and tool donations.
The board of directors of Tools for Opportunity has established a budgeting goal of $10,000 per trip. As I mentioned before, we often make two trips per year.
You can help by making a tax-deductible donation. We make it easy using the “Donate” buttons on our web page and Facebook page. We appreciate any amount and you can rest assured that your dollars are spent with the utmost care.
We sincerely thank you for your support!