Loving Our Neighbors

By: Tori Roufs

Bosques de la Paz is a neighborhood unlike any I have seen in the states. It is what I would call “all-inclusive”, where its residents have practically every need met inside the neighborhood walls. Bosques is a walled community that contains over 400 houses, as well as: restaurants, parks, schools/daycares, internet cafés, a medical clinic, a dental clinic, a veterinarian clinic, an art school, multiple carwashes and hair salons, several small tiendas, a panaderia, a carneceria, a Baptist church, a Catholic church, a corn mill, a nice soccer field, and tons of pupuserias. Throughout the day you can go on a walk and find vendors selling snow cones, mango noodles, choco-bananas, and licuados (fresh blended juices). When parents come home after work and kids come home from school, you see mini soccer games on street corners and families taking walks together in the cooler part of the day.

Bosques has come a long way from its humble beginnings. In the late 1980’s when the war in El Salvador was coming to an end, Bosques was a forest where many deaths took place. As my friend Claudia told me, “There was much blood shed here, and many people and families died.” 15 years ago this bloody forest became the thriving neighborhood that we know today, but several members of the community wish there was some type of memorial to honor the memory of those who died; but as of today there is none.

Though the people in Bosques are friendly and hospitable, there seems to be a lack of true companionship and community amongst neighbors. Through multiple conversations with my new friends, what has been described is a lack of true knowledge of ones neighbor. Jaimee and I talked with a lady down the street for a quite a while, and she ended up telling us that she didn’t know any other women in Bosques, and that she was lonely. A family across the street from our house has also expressed loneliness and disconnectedness to those they live around. Other conversations with those in the schools, store vendors, and others has continued to reinforce the need for a community that images “love for their neighbor.”

Bosques is a community with plenty of opportunity for its inhabitants to get to know one another and help each other in their daily lives. As a mother of three, my days are spent mostly in Bosques walking the streets meeting new people, introducing my family to our new neighbors, watching my kids play with the other kids on the street for hours a day, and I have come to know several of the women in the school that Kiah and I attend twice a week. Our family has only been here for four weeks at this point, and it seems that as with any community, there are definite opportunities for growth and positive change. I’m excited to experience growth in the relationships that have just begun, and I hope to be a good neighbor for the next 8 weeks.