Sunday, February 12, 2012

Little Bits

So there are a bunch of little things I wanted to share with you.  Firstly, I felt my first tremor two weeks ago!  I forgot to tell you about it last week.  They happen in El Salvador all the time and mostly the foreigners don't feel them.  They are slight and quick and by the time someone tells you we are having a tremor, it is done.  The one a few weeks ago,  was just after I had settled down in my bed and the whole house moved twice, very quickly and then it was done.   Foreigners often call this action an "earthquake" and Salvadorians laugh.  It would be about the same as someone calling a few snowflakes a blizzard!  An interesting experience nonetheless!

Secondly, two weeks ago I also received a reply from the Canadian Government responding to my inquiry in October as to a a Canadian Government response to the floods here.  I didn't know this, but the Canadian Government send 2 million dollars to Central America , of which $700,000 went to El Salvador.  They distributed through International Humanitarian Organizations like the Red Cross.   This was new information for me and I was pleased to hear it.

Elizabeth in a hammock at Lucy's house

Elizabeth, Dennis and Lucy
This week I had the pleasure of sharing a bit of my life here with Dennis and Elizabeth Huss.  They are retired friends of mine from Westminster United Church in Waterloo.  They have a goal to visit 100 countries in the world and to date have been in about 75.   This year they took on Central American and added in a bit of time to visit with me in El Salvador.    We toured a little San Salvador on the day they arrived and the next day we went to Guacotecti and visited ADES and Sensuntepeque.  They were great sports and spent 3 hours on two buses each way.  One of the highlights for everyone was when my friend Lucy from ADES invited us to her house for lunch.  She served us a great bean soup, tortillas and fresh cheese and tomatoes.  Elizabeth liked the "hammock lifestyle" so much that she and Dennis bought one to take home.  I have to say, I am seriously considering adding a hammock to my living room when I get home.  This way I can use it all year round!

There is so much about life in El Salvador that is difficult.  People here have to endure so much more than most Canadians.  There are few systems that work particularly well.  This week, I had three separate conversations that inspired me.  The first two were about the elections.  One of my English students, Edwin, has been selected to work for the Supreme Electoral Tribunal on the day of the election.  His job will be to take the official piece of paper that has the vote totals and send it into the head office.  He will also have to make copies of the vote totals for each poll at his voting centre.  He talked to me a lot this week about his responsibility to care for the votes.  Although he got this job through a particular political party, it is clear that his first allegiance is to the law and the voting process, not his party.  I have always have taken this for granted, but it is not always the case here.  I was deeply impressed with his desire to be a part of an election that happens according to the rules.

I also had the opportunity to talk with a lawyer from the United States.  He is someone who has had a deep interest in El Salvador for many years.  He has visited the country and has many Salvadorian clients.  He is coming to be an Observer, in part because he is so impressed with what the Salvadorian people have managed to do...unite rebel/guerilla forces under one banner, become a legitimate political party and have a President from that party.  He is of course correct.  This has been a huge achievement of the Salvadorian people.  Sometimes in the midst of all of the difficulties of the day to day, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and the bigger struggle.  I was glad to be reminded of this.

This week I was introduced to the young doctor in charge of the Health Centre in Victoria.  Salvador is from Santa Marta and he was able to receive his education because of  a scholarship program from ADES (funded by contributions from out of the country).  Antonio, ADES Executive Director explained to Dennis and Elizabeth that ADES works a lot in the area of education believing that this is the way that people will be able to develop their own communities.  While this takes a lot of time, people like Salvador, who is now a Doctor in a community very near to where he grew up, are evidence of what a little bit of North American/European aid can mean for a poor community.  Educating Salvadorians is a much better option than parachuting in foreigners to meet needs.   Positive change is here.  But is is small and slow and you need to watch for it.

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