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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

why do the poor die when it rains

Wednesday, November 4th myself (Beth Tellman) and Sam Baker met with a wonderful group of 3 women to organize an organic free range chicken project in Santa Maria de La Esperanza, Santiago Texacuangos, El Salvador

Saturday, November 7th- Sam received a phonecall early in the morning that 3 members of this same community died. Could we bring food and water? Yes. We collected 20 dollars from every North American we saw, went to the market, and drove out with Allie and Pat in my green pick up to Santa Maria. We got there too late to walk the 30 hike down into the community, and the access road was blocked and dangerous as it continued to rain. It looked kind of apocaplytic- misty, people crying in a daze. We dropped off the water and left. Later, Mercedes, the community leader, gave me a call. Thank you. But there is another community with 25 families living in a shelter with no roof, water, or food. Can you come back tommorrow? Yes.

Sunday, November 8th- We had nearly tripled our money, got another pick up truck, and 2 salvadorans to join us. With a robust group of 10 young people under the age of 25, we were able to purchase medicine, blankets, clothes, water, beans, rice, and flashlights and headed back to Santa Maria. Mercedes grabbed my arm as soon as she saw me, "Beth- I keep having to leave the church~where all are currently sheltered~ so that no one can see me cry. I have to be strong. Remember the organic chicken project? What will come of it?" Mercedes points to a pile of dirt, under which is buried the woman I met with on Wednesday. She has two sons.
By the time we climbed back up to the pick up, a healthy 40 minutes uphill, it was nearly dark. Santa Maria needed children's tylonel, diapers, and more water. However, there was a community even further away, and more isolated. Could we return at 7am with more supplies and people? Yes.
We returned to San Salvador to refuel that night so that we could leave at 6am the next morning for our toughest day yet.

Monday November 9th
We woke up at 530 am to Emory's french toast, and make a lunch of whatever we found in the kitchen (bread, avocados, bean paste, cream). This time, 12 of us, prepared with chacos, sunscreen, and backpacks, jumped into the pickup.
The details are just garnish and help distract me from one of the most impossibly unprocessable days of my young life.
As we hiked over an hour the first community with pack full of everything imaginable (yet not enough at all), we came upon a house were a body had just been found that morning.
We arrived at a field. The community gathered around us and our stuff. We quickly realized we had brought much too little- as each family only recieved enough beans to fill half a jar. That would barely feed the family for a meal- let alone a day.
The community informed us that NO ONE has visited. That they had been without water for 3 days. We brought something, but not enough.
After we can distributed the "not enough", 5 more families crossed our path. We had NOTHING for them. I have never felt so inadequate. Or so embarrassed about my lunch (a sandwhich with two pieces- half of what each FAMILY recieved until the next drop off...which will be??)
As we continued with out empty packs to take analyses of another community...it just got worse. It looked like jurassic park. Or a movie set. Whole mountain sides gone. Only the men remained in the community to guard the houses from thieves. It is impossible to describe the scence.
As we reached Lago de Ilopango, we passed the remaining women and children (all other are shoved into a shelter of 700 people or MORE) we were waiting by the lake.
A helicopter lands. The women and children RUSH towards the helicopter hoping for food, water, help of any kind. Unfortunately, out of the army helicopter jumped one man with a chainsaw. The helicopter flies away. The people watch after it in desperation. I cannot describe to vacuum of hope that helicopter caused.
We hiked about 3 hours, went back to Santa Maria, and the community made me give a speech. Which NGO were we from? ummm disaster team disaster? beth and sam ltd.??

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