some answers to commonly asked questions

Commonly Asked Questions 

What are the Health Risks?

We will hand out a very detailed packet of medical advice once we start participant meetings. 

Here are some highlighted points:

  • No specific vaccinations are required for entry into El Salvador
  • While we are there, we assume that ALL water is unsafe to drink with 2 exceptions: We drink any water that is bottled, and we drink the water from the wells we’ve built. It is 100% safe to drink, and is tested for all unhealthy bacteria and none has been found. This has been the main water source of our trips for over the past six years.
  • Mosquitoes, dengue, and malaria: In July the risk for dengue fever is low. Malaria, while present in other more mountainous regions of El Salvador has never been reported by locals or Americans in Rancho Grande, therefore, the chances of getting malaria are very low. However, to best protect yourself, use insect repellent with DEET. Additionally, we will sleep with mosquito nets.
  • It has come to our attention that people have some concerns regarding the outbreak of the Zika virus in Central and South America. We would like to direct you to the Center for Disease Control's website on the matter. In summary: "Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon." We are asking that no pregnant women travel with us. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Is It Safe?

We will be traveling to Rancho Grande, El Salvador, which is roughly one hour & 30 minutes from the capitol, San Salvador, but is very different. While San Salvador is a flourishing city, Rancho Grande (literally “big farm”) is rural. It is a community with dirt roads and dirt floors in their homes. It has two two-room schoolhouses, a small, almost unnoticeable, corner store, a community center, and no traffic other than the cows walking to the field. 

While you may think that El Salvador is not a safe country, we can assure you that Rancho Grande is safer than most parts of Chicago. We wanted to be sure of this, so Liana & Colin personally visited Rancho Grande and the surrounding area and we can assure you, that, yes in fact the villages are very safe.

While in the community we have never experienced any signs or gestures of violence. We fly into and out of the San Salvador airport. We will see guards with guns there, but it is for security. We have never had a problem, and don’t expect to. The airport workers were nicer than the ones at O'Hare.

What wildlife do we encounter?

Scorpions are known to be around during our stay in Rancho Grande. We take great care to wrap up our belongings every morning to ensure they don’t find their way into our things. If someone does get stung, our doctor tends to the sting, and they are back to 100% within a few hours.

There are also occasional iguanas about town. But they are friendly and we rarely see them. Stray cats and dogs are also around, we just have to remember they aren’t like our pets back home, and we must be cautious about interacting with them.

Other than that, just the typical friendly farm animals: cows, chickens, horses, etc!

Where do we sleep?

Boys sleep in a schoolhouse while girls sleep in the local community center.

What do we eat?

We cannot know how the native food will affect us, so we bring in food from the city that we know is safe for us to eat.  All of our food will be cooked with clean water. We do our best to meet any special dietary needs.


We are asking that the participants make a goal to raise $1,500 for the trip. Here is an estimated breakdown:

  • Transportation to and from (plane, bus): $1100
  • In country costs (food, transportation and lodging): $150
  • Projects: $200-$300 

We ask that you make an effort to fundraise the money, to experience a community of support as you prepare for the trip. Any “extra” money will go into our long term project funds (wells, schools, boats, scholarships, etc), and will continue to bless these people over the next few years as we put different projects in place. We ask everyone to raise as much as they can. If cost is an issue, please talk to one of us. We do not want to exclude anyone! 


For a trip this large with so many details, we utilize electronic communication. Upon learning that you are participating with this trip, you must complete the online form that will be emailed to you. On rare occasions, our group emails end up in SPAM (especially for those with accounts). For gmail accounts, these messages sometimes end up in the PROMOTIONS tab. Messages will come out roughly every 2 weeks. At the same time, we will be regularly updating this website, so check back for more information.