March 20, 2013
Today both groups worked a half-day at our respective homes, then took a trip up into the mountains to visit Santiago de Maria. This is the community that was devastated by two earthquakes twelve years ago, destroying the homes of 400 families. Temporary housing was built following the earthquakes and those families are still living in this temporary housing today. We visited one of the four settlements, Moreno, where 68 families are living. There are two community latrines that these families share; the average size of an El Salvadoran family is five people, so that means approximately 340 people sharing two bathrooms!
We visited the home of Rosario who is a 23 year-old mother of two. She lived with her parents in the settlement since the earthquakes when she was 11, and when she married, she and her husband built a shack next to her parents. Words cannot describe the absolute poverty these people live in. The homes are built of corrugated metal and they have dirt floors. There are holes in the metal roofs, so during the rainy season, the floors are mud. To support their family, Rosario takes in laundry and ironing, and her husband works seasonally at a coffee plantation. Again, it is completely amazing to us how clean and neat their clothing is.
We brought activities to do with the kids this afternoon; face painting, coloring pages, tattoos and stickers, and balloons. Some of the guys also played soccer and frisbee with some of the kids. We ended the afternoon with a piñata, and a treat for each of the kids.
The city of Santiago de Maria has finally set aside land to use to build homes for these families. The roads and electricity have been completed and Habitat El Salvador is preparing to begin building 400 homes at this site, They have the pledges needed to start 35 homes, as soon as the permits are completed. The cost of each home is $7000. Now they need teams to come and build!
The children greeted us with hugs and kisses, and the parents thanked us over and over for visiting them. These are hard-working people who just need a hand-up.