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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Joya Grande Declared Uninhabitable

Listen to this radio journalism piece by CEIBA's official volunteer journalist Saul Monge....
its in spanish...
I won't do any direct translation here, but wanted to share significant weekend events.

#1. Joya Grande is Uninhabitable. Duh?
Saturday lots of important government officials (mayor, governor, etc.) came to tell everyone in Joya Grande that they lived at risk. DUH! Pretty sure they already knew that one. But pretty controversial, actually. The community DOESNT TRUST the government study, because a few years back the government tried to kick everyone out of Joya Grande to build a 5-star hotel called PuertoPango. I will not name names or get into detail for the safety of CEIBA, but lets just say there are pretty big interests at play. The meeting lasted about 5 hours, and was rather frustrating for everyone involved, as community members were treated like babies by their local government, who clearly did not recognize the hard work they had done! We even pasted our risk/shelter/ evacuation maps for each neighborhood on the wall! Joya Grande is ORGANIZED! It really is. Community members, like Don Jesus, got pretty raucous ( I mean, so would you if you were told that your community was habitable for a 5-star hotel but not for YOU). He asked the governor to basically cut the *%*& and answer 2 questions A. Is Joya Grande Uninhabitable? and B. If you are gonna kick us out, are you gonna give us a house and land?
Mercedes has met with leaders in every 'hood in town and there is a unanimous decision. No one is leaving until the government builds us new houses somewhere else that we like. ** Problem** the land CEIBA speculates will be the relocation station for Joya Grande will be Shangallo, famous for its high HIV rate and serious gang problem. Natural disaster for the daily disaster of violence? now is THAT a fair trade?
I love first pic (its CEIBA's Mercedes, Beth and Jonathan alongide Community Civil Protection Rep. Sergio, looking darn frustrated) not because of our expression but because of where we stand. With the people, trying to work through it together and strategize and be realistic- I hope that is what CEIBA will always be about. No other NGO will dare invest in Joya Grande. Not even the government, who has declared that its a wasted investment in a doomed community. Well, CEIBA will invest, as long as there are over 1,000 human beings living in Joya Grande.

It reminds me of that parable, where God wants to destroy Sodom and Gomorah, and some prophet (Abraham?!) keeps convining God that Sodom should be spared for 50 people, then 10, etc. Until God realizes that love for just one human being is enough to believe in a place and keep working on it. I think the lesson is that human beings are worth investing in, no matter who they are or where they live.

As long as there are 10 in Joya Grande, CEIBA will be there.

#2 Government of Santo Tomas threatens to kick 26 families out of the shelter and onto the street.
We recieve frantic calls Saturday night that families sheltered from Ida, Agatha, AND now Alex are going to have to live in the gutter. and started to move...callng certain contacts to alert this particular government that a certain human rights organization would be there at the kick-out taking notes.
Well wouldn't ya know that the government decided not to show? Decided not to kick anyone out? Only ONE member of the local government game, and frantically called her other committee members to figure out what happened. Guess she didn't get the memo: human rights violation called off due to possible activism uprising and reprecussions. Heh. heh.
Anyways, fellow NGO Anmutspical filled 2 buses full of woman and children to march to the governors office.....and for now, they get to stay in the shelter. When will they get houses? ahhh the eternal question of every family damned by not-so-natural disasters in El Salvador...

1 comment:

  1. Hello!
    I'm one of the ND students coming on the Immersion trip that is in a few days!!
    I'm so excited and I was just rereading this and I loved the part when you wrote that human beings are worth investing in, no matter who they are or where they live.
    This reminded me of a poem by Emily Dickinson that I love.
    You and CEIBA and everyone else helping out are doing awesome job!! Here's the poem:

    If I can stop one heart from breaking,
    I shall not live in vain;
    If I can ease one life the aching,
    Or cool one pain,
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again,
    I shall not live in vain.
    -Emily Dickinson

    None of CEIBA's efforts are in vain and I'm excited to learn and help out for 10 days!
    See you soon and God bless!