Thursday, December 13, 2007

Visiting families on the volcano

Originally uploaded by alison.mckellar
This lady has been so hard for me to stop thinking about.... she's 76 and has no access to clean water and has just learned she'll soon be forced to leave her land because a new highway is being constructed to facilitate trade routes to Panama... part of the ongoing saga caused by free trade agreements in El Salvador. Although desperate and withdrawn, she remains feisty and frequently jokes about her own death. She doesn't want us to leave, and embraces each member of the group, offering a dramatic appeal for us to return to spend New Years with her and her family... I am the only one that speaks Spanish in the group, but the woman seems not to have understand that my friends don't understand her, so each time I turn around to talk with someone else, I am called back to translate a message from her. She asks us not to forget her, and I try my best to translate her words into English with the same sense of urgency and sorrow that I hear them in Spanish. She says that her community needs plastic barrels so they can store more water... she and her daughter both agree that this is their greatest concern. The metal barrel they have now is corroded and leaking. $10 the barrel costs.... she doesn't forsee getting a barrel anytime soon... this is one of their long term goals...
Being back home, in Camden, I can't stop thinking about this woman and all the people she, without knowing, speaks on behalf of. I've heard so many stories over the past month, and now it's time to start organizing and figuring out how to best help these people... how I can possibly communicate their message. It's so hard to make people here feel what we all felt speaking with this lady. Still, it's not so complicated... I shouldn't have to think of all kinds of creative strategies to communicate such a simple message: these people don't have food or clean water, and here, we have more than enough of almost everything.