Hello From Your Mission Trip Team In El Salvador!
Today was our first day on the HFH construction site at the Getsemani Community, in the Ahuachapan Department in El Salvador. What is a “Department” you may ask? Think of a “Department” in El Salvador like a state in the U.S.A. I would like to provide a synopsis of our day in pictures with captions, so please follow this blog update along in that manner. But first, let us explore why the team from St Lukes is here this week, in conjunction with HFH.
Poverty in Ahuachapán
One of 14 departments in El Salvador, Ahuachapán lies 62 miles from the capital of San Salvador and borders Guatemala. Despite the fact that this department contains some of the richest coffee-growing areas of the country, the population continues to be one of the poorest. Several of the department’s 12 municipalities are categorized as being of extreme poverty—including the municipality of Ahuachapán, where a fifth of the families survive on a monthly income of less than the cost of the family food basket.
The situation has gotten worse as the international prices of coffee have decreased. Men and women generally work in the informal sector earning around $100 monthly, though some are able to secure employment in factories or in the private security sector and thus can earn up to $200. Those who cannot make a living near home seek job opportunities in the capital city and return home several times a month on weekends to visit their families.
The economy of El Salvador therefore does not give families the opportunity to develop long-term solutions to their biggest problems. Families must spend most of their income on food; needs such as education, clothing, health and housing are lower priorities. For example, 14% of children in the municipality of Ahuachapán between the ages of seven and fifteen do not attend school. With regard to housing (in the same municipality), almost 50% of houses have dirt floors and more than 40% of homes are overcrowded with at least three people per bedroom.
Today, your St Lukes team witnessed first hand the poverty and living conditions described above. It saddens my heart to see that people just like you and I, that know and love Christ, are living in such deplorable conditions. We had a personal look at the Joel and Sandra Cabrera family’s housing today as we dropped off our water jugs and gathered our tools from their house; dirt floors, rotting wooden plank walls with cracks that allow rain to seep through; a tin roof that is rusted and leaking moisture; mosquito nets stretched over the small beds for protection; an out house for a toilet set up over a hole in the ground that is something that none of us can even imagine having to deal with on a daily basis; and the list could go on. Amongst all of this, the Cabrera family were a happy, healthy, smiling, warm family, seeing only through the eyes of God that life was okay. They do however say prayers for better housing conditions and a better life for their family. It is with this that through the strength of our God, that Habitat For Humanity brings forth a spark that will light the fire to lead the way to fulfill on this prayer. The following pictures describe our day here today, in how we from St Lukes are contributing a small part, to help to fulfill their prayer. God Bless, and may the peace of our God be with you, always.