Fishing for the future
A corps officer handcrafts a fishing boat to fund Army efforts in Venezuela
By Vivian Lopez –
Lt. Edicson Sanchez is on a mission to make The Salvation Army in Venezuela self-sufficient. He made a fishing boat at the San Luis Corps in Maracaibo and uses it to fish and sell his catch to support local ministry. He calls it: “Pesca Milagrosa” (Miraculous Fishing).
“This was a program that no one imagined our corps would be able to put together,” said Sanchez, corps administrator and director. “It impacted our corps members and people in the community in that they would now have the opportunity to work for The Salvation Army instead of other companies that exploit their workers.”
Behind the Pesca Milagrosa program is a fishing team of four sailors, one captain and Sanchez, in conjunction with The Salvation Army Venezuela Regional Coordinator Lt. Juan De Dios Soteldo and The Salvation Army Latin America North Territory’s funding council.
“Pesca Milagrosa is very necessary in our community because the majority of men in our community are fishermen and it’s a solid, prosperous workforce,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez and his workers handcrafted the boat using resin, fiberglass, thinner and brushes, among other building materials. Team members, who are paid according to their fishing production, receive one to two days off per week, using those days to repair fishing nets and conduct boat maintenance.
“The goal is to have nets in a variety of measurements so we can work with different types of fish, whether they are small or big,” Sanchez said. “The worth of the fish is determined by its size.”
Fish caught through the program are sold to a fish processing facility, and Sanchez said every team member is able to take fish home. Additionally, local families facing food insecurity receive fish at low or no cost based on their circumstances.
“It benefits the Maracaibo community, San Luis Corps members and The Salvation Army Venezuela region,” Sanchez said. “It helps our corps and community members because it offers job opportunities so they are able to sustain and maintain their household necessities, and it supports The Salvation Army’s efforts in the Venezuela region so it can be self-sufficient.”
Sanchez said the outreach opportunities through the Pesca Milagrosa program have also benefitted the mission of the San Luis Corps.
“It helps us have more contact with people in our community to share the Word of God,” he said. “This is important because it is at the core of what our founder wanted for the Army.”
According to Sanchez, the program has even boosted corps attendance as several families of the fishermen started coming to services.
“The program is being maintained and is progressing,” Sanchez said. “We’ve been able to help others and learn more about the community and this field of work.”
What’s perhaps most surprising—that’s all been achieved with a single boat.
“We hope that in the near future we can have two boats finished to have more of an impact on the community and The Salvation Army in the self-sustainability of Venezuela and our territory,” he said. “We are working so that we can keep fishing and continue to do so for many years to come.”