Sunday, May 4, 2008

12 small victories in El Salvador

Some of you will remember reading about a woman in El Salvador who told us that the greatest need she and her community faced were ten dollar barrels for water storage. Her story was very moving and you can read about it here if you missed it.

With all the abundance that surrounds us, it's unimaginable that this lady was suffering for a lack of a ten dollar water barrel. At first, I blamed human selfishness and greed when I heard stories like this, but now, I think it's more accurate to say that people feel unconnected. They don't believe they can make a difference, and, rather than selfish, they feel helpless or hopeless.

I hear many heart-wrenching appeals for support during my time in Latin America, and sometimes try not to lose myself in frantic pursuits to rescue individuals. I have so often been told that I can't help everyone, that the only way to have a large scale impact on poverty is by not wallowing in the despairs of individuals but rather by thinking logically about solutions for many. We prefer to look at poverty, human suffering, and global inequality as abstractions, too complicated for any of us to solve. Sometimes, though, the matter is much more simple than we care to imagine.

After hearing this story, I wrote blog entries, uploaded pictures and captions to Flickr, saved the woman's picture as my computer desktop, and printed various photos to hang on my walls. One of the people I told was Alison Mynick, a lawyer at Briggs and Counsel, the law firm that has been helping me with some of the legal aspects of the organization. When I told her that ten dollars could buy a water barrel, she immediately said, "well my gosh, if it's that simple, take this donation and get ten of them."
I did exactly that, and am delighted to say that Alison's donation has actually purchased not ten, but 12 barrels for the most vulnerable families of the Las Nubes community on the outskirts of San Ramon, El Salvador.
I also left a digital camera in El Salvador with the community that Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Parish maintains a sister relationship with, and yesterday, they finally sent me these pictures.

The people are very grateful for their water barrels and I am very grateful to them for all the inspiration and joy they give me. They help remind me every day of just how fortunate we all are, and of how big a difference we can make by doing very small things.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Hi Alison,

I found year blog when checking other Camden resident blogs. I'm very impressed with what you are doing. This is really great to know about.

Your blog on the need for water made me think of another project going on in Africa to help people with their water needs. You may already know about this but just in case you don't, here is the link:

http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/04/16/project-h-design-in-south-africa-hippo-rollers-delivered/#more-9477

Keep up the great work!