pic: this picture is not this man's backyard, it is his living room!
Two years ago a business immersion group from Santa Clara University made an investment in Santa Maria to develop a water pump that would establish an irrigation system yielding crops and income for the community. I had recently committed my time and efforts to this project to help the community search for alternate sources and projects by which to further develop this water system. After November 7th the crops have been destroyed, and the water pump system is now in complete desolation. My project has changed from getting water to their crops to getting water to their mouths. Is it not ironic that a disaster caused by an abundance of water has lead communities like Santa Maria to a state with NO water?
I was in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala visiting my former host family when the rain struck El Salvador. I first learned of the news when Beth and Sam sent me a link to the blog that you are reading right now. The headline from Beth’s post read “What do the poor do when it rains?” This statement forced me to contrast the society that I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. “When it rains” when I was a kid meant that it was time to take the snowboard out of the attic and hit the slopes.
pic: this Salvadoran stands atop a bed (pink) on which a girl and her mother drowned in the mud
By many standards, what occurred on November 7th was NOT a natural disaster. There was no hurricane, tornado, volcanic eruption, earthquake, and the list goes on. This was only rain. It is rather the poverty and those that refuse to change the status quo that has allowed the most natural events to become disastrous.
After returning to El Salvador, I joined the team on a disaster relief mission to Santiago Texacuangos. Danielle Mckay already provided a vivid photo display from her post on Monday November 23, 2007. It is hard to express in narrative what we felt walking through these communities. As we walked from town to town while carrying jugs of water and bags full of food, I thought about defining our representation as many of the Salvadorans asked who we were working with or where we were coming from. Usually an organization, church, school, government, or country supports these kinds of missions; however, we were no more then a group of human beings representing the right thing to do. One of my favorite quotes is Thomas Paine saying, “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” Those are the words from our Father of Common Sense!
Each community we visited was so thankful to receive these resources. One community, although still very thankful, expressed that they had a concern beyond hunger. They brought us to the one remaining wall from a house that had fallen down the mountain. The wall now stood as a towering threat over many houses below. With the foundation of the Earth currently in a very fragile state, the natives of the town said that they were unsure what to do. They did not have the resources or knowledge to securely and safely demolish a wall, so we told the community that we would inform organizations that can provide assistance with this problem. But what are they to do in the meantime?
pic: THE WALL
While writing this post, I can hear Beth in our living room— “I just got a call from Santa Maria…it is supposed to rain tonight and the people are flippin’ sh%#t!”
It felt good to be able to deliver a lifeline to these communities, and I want to thank all you readers and donors for your support in allowing us to do what it needed. But what Santiago Texacuangos needs tonight are your prayers. Pray for the people who tonight will go to sleep underneath a teetering wall. Pray for the people who do not know where there next meal is coming from. Pray for the people loosing faith and hope. Pray that we sleep dry tonight. When you are giving thanks in front of that big juicy turkey tonight, be thankful not just for that delicious meal, but also for those things that we most often take for granted. Be thankful for the water, the food, the roof over your head, and the family that you have to share it with.