Friday, October 28, 2011

Census of San Isidro

Friday, 10-21-11

Today was another great day in San Isidro and the day we spent walking to the rest of the houses for the census. In the morning we had a couple short meetings before beginning the census. When we arrived in the community we were to have a meeting with the women’s group and a short get together with the youth group. But the women’s group was running a little late so while we waited the delegation thought it’d be fun to paint the nails of the girls in the youth group. They’d bought nail polish in San Salvador and had planned to do it yesterday but we all forgot. So they whipped out the polish today and painted away. One of the guys even had a nail painted.

After they’d finished we met with the youth group. Yesterday we’d discussed some artisan goods and jewelry they could also make in addition to learning how to sew. The Team and I had some artisan jewelry so we’d brought it with us to show the kids. They all seemed to like looking at the jewelry and passed it around. Even the guys were interested in it. I told them that several of the pieces I had were made by guys from a youth group. I hope everything works out for the youth group. They seem to be a good group of kids.

Next we went outside to meet with the women’s group. Right now they are making natural medicines for themselves and are hoping to make more in the future to sell to people in the community and in Berlín. What they want to do is grow as many of the ingredients as they can in their community and buy in Berlín what they can’t grow. They’ve been making a cough syrup and muscle rub but could make other things as well. The delegation had lots of questions for the women and the women had things to talk about so it was a really good meeting.

Marie painting nails

Looking good, Kathy

Painting one nail

Showing jewelry to the youth

Checking it out

They looked excited

Cough medicine

Discussing the natural medicines

Some of the women from the women's group

Around 10:30am we were able to begin the census. We had more than 40 houses to cover so it was decided that we’d split into groups. We started at one end of the community and worked our way driving and walking to the other end. Though it’d take too long to write about each house there are several things that stood out to me as we did the census.

The first house we visited today was by far the nicest. It was very solid and made out of concrete. The inside of the house had a tile floor which is not something you see often in the cantons here. They also had a huge TV and fridge in the main part of their house. I later learned that they have three children living in the US which is why they’re able to live so well (relatively speaking). The family was very nice and offered us fresh passion fruit juice which was delicious.

Another house that stood out to me was one that I always notice when we drive through San Isidro. The family has the most beautiful garden outside. There are nine people who live there and they are incredibly nice people (like most everyone in the community). I noticed right away that the dad had holes in the toes of his shoes. I wondered if he owned any other shoes and how long the ones he had would last. I’ve seen a lot of sad looking shoes, and I admit that I spend a lot of time looking at people’s feet when I’m in the cantons. They tell a lot about a person.

Outside of the house were lots of clothes hanging on the fence to dry. The dad had mentioned that they hadn’t had clean, dry clothes for a while because of all the rain. I know that was a problem with a lot of other families in the cantons as well. Several people came to the Pastoral House looking for clothing, especially for the children and older people who got are more prone to getting cold and sick faster in that kind of rainy weather. I prayed that the sun would stay out long enough today to dry their clothes.

One of the girl’s from the youth group who is quite chatty lived at the next house we went to. This house was also the one that Teri’s family in the US had been partnered with so she was excited to meet them. The house was very small for the 7 people that live there, maybe three times the size of my bedroom at the Pastoral House. I saw two beds inside. My bed at the house has a box spring. Many beds in the cantons only have metal bars or wire mesh that act as a support for the paper thin mattress. One of the beds in this home only had widely-spaced rope that held the mattress off the ground. I saw a piece of corrugated metal that was propped up on some pieces of wood. That may also serve as a bed for some of the children.

In the first house

Pouring us passion fruit juice


Peeking out through the fence

Another boy, another fence

Beautiful children

The boy got in the picture again

Holes in his shoes

Standing outside their house

Clothes hanging on the fence

By his front door

Inside their humble home

Teri with her Salvadoran family

Incredible view from their home

When we arrived at one of the houses I saw that they were making atol. And they were making a lot of atol. I remembered yesterday the Directiva told us that there was going to be a surprise for the delegation today. So I was pretty sure this was it. At the house were two twin girls who were absolutely adorable. I took their picture and showed it to them. When they saw their picture one of the girl’s pointed at the camera and said, “niña” (girl). Very cute!

At another house I saw a couple boys sitting outside. One of them was holding some jeans and appeared to be sewing them. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was making them shorter. He told me he was learning how to sew. I told him I was impressed he was learning and asked him if he was in the youth group. When he said yes I said he could help teach the other kids. It was great to see one of the young people, especially one of the young men, teaching themselves how to do something.

One of the families we visited had a bunch of corn sitting outside. It was on a blanket that had been put over a bed frame. I asked what they were doing with the corn. They explained to me that they were drying it out. It was wet and soft from all the rain and needed to dry. This is common and something I’ve seen before. People often dry corn along the sides of the roads. They also dry coffee outside which I have seen more of lately since it’s that time of year.

This dog was adorable!

I had to pet the dog

The leader of the youth group

Very cute little boy

Lisa with her Salvadoran family

Cuche! Pig!

Unsure of the gringos

Holding her sister

Preparing atol

Lots of action

Cooking the atol

Beautiful little girls!

I love her red dress

Very happy to see us

Sweet face

These two eventually warmed up to us

FMLN flag hanging at one of the houses

Sewing his pants

Letting corn dry out

Playing with the corn

I was excited when we got to the house of the woman who helps make the natural medicines. I really like natural medicine and I wanted to buy some of the cream they make for headaches and muscle aches. It contains eucalyptus, menthol, camphor, and three different types of leaves that I don’t recognize (hoja del golpe, suelda con suelda, and guaco). It smelled good and I was glad she still had some at her house.

In the morning we’d given a ride to a woman who lives in San Isidro but was shopping in Berlín. This afternoon we got to visit her house. She has a little store inside her house where she sells chips, soap, oil, and other little things for people in the community. After meeting with her, she and her husband gave us a chicken and a bunch of bananas. Blanca and I immediately decided to name the chicken Felipe Vladimir.

One of the last families we visited was extremely poor. The house is about twice the size of my room, which is very small for the husband and wife who live there with their three children. Though we didn’t go inside I could see that they didn’t have much. They had no fruit trees, no animals, no electricity, and no running water. The poor conditions that people live in never ceases to make me feel depressed. It was heartbreaking. I felt like crying.

Outside their house

By the veranera tree (bougainvillea)

This family gave us a chicken and plantains

Holding the chicken, Felipe Vladimir

One of the smallest homes we saw

FMLN and their works

I can see you!


Carrying limes and plantains to the truck

Holding an ayote

When we’d finished the census and got back to the church we saw that lots of families were gathered there. We figured this had something to do with the surprise that Ivan had talked about. After everyone had arrived at church Ivan said thank you to the Pastoral Team and delegation for going house to house and getting to know the community. When he’d finished several people from the community stood up as well to say thank you and say goodbye to the delegation.

When all those who wanted to say something had said it, Ivan said it was time for the surprise. They brought out several large pots from the church. It was the atol I’d seen! Yay! They also had made yucca for us. Double yay! We got some cups and plates and the community served up the food for us. What was even better, they’d made enough for everyone in the community. People had brought plates, bowls, and cups with them. This was great because oftentimes it’s only the delegation that the community makes food for. We were glad that everyone got to eat.

When we’d finished eating it was time to head back to Berlín. By then it was 5pm and later than we’d thought we’d be leaving. We hugged and waved goodbye to people. It had been a wonderful day getting to know the community.

Gathered to say goodbye

Ivan talking to everyone

Scooping up atol

Yucca with cabbage and salsa

Weldon and Marie eating atol

Lisa and Teri eating yucca

Serving the community

On the way home we had to stop for about 10 minutes because a big truck had come to clean up a recent landslide. There were several guys out with shovels and picks trying to clear the road. Kathy got out to take pictures. By the time we got home it was really dark. But eventually they got it mostly cleared and we were able to get by. As soon as we pulled into the garage it started pouring down rain. I was glad the rain could hold off until we got back. It’s certainly been a fun time with the Covenant delegation. I’m glad I got to be a part of their adventures!

Truck up ahead blocking the road

Removing the dirt from the landslide

Waiting to get moving again

1 comment:

Matt said...

It is always really interesting to hear about a census in a canton. Interesting to see the differences even among families in one canton. It's great to see so many kids involved with their community.