El Salvadors Hidden Secret: A Poor Woman in the Rain

By: Britt Edwards No one wanted her there. Not with all the luxury and beautiful things for sell. But that's where we found her...in the middle of the pouring rain.

Sitting in an open-air office, 3 of us look at a giant map of El Salvador.  We lean forward in our plastic seats while a local Salvadorian, Marco, points out areas with high concentrations of extreme poverty.  “People think that El Salvador is no longer a poor country,” he says,  “but this is a myth.”  We know exactly what he meant.  At first glance, the lush country of El Salvador appears to be a developing nation with growing tourism, a stable economy, and many signs of western modernity.  For example, San Salvador hosts the biggest shopping malls in Central America.  All the luxuries enjoyed in the United States can easily be found in San Salvador's bustling urban areas.

We are in the midst of a heavy rain season, so we ventured out to one of these malls to buy umbrellas.  We walked around window shopping, listening to old 80s songs played over the ambient speakers, and ate lunch at a fast food restaurant.  We eventually crossed the street to a stream of local markets.  Huge rain drops pelted the tin roofs as vendors stood in their shops announcing to all passersby what they had to sell.  Then I saw her.

She was a older woman, perhaps in her late forties.  Soaking wet from the rain and only in her underwear, she walked down the street asking for money.  A man steps off of the sidewalk to take her a coat while another walks towards to her only to laugh and give her a high-five before running back to his giddy friends.  This woman, to me, represents the second life that El Salvador hopes to hide.  You see, just a few blocks away from the mall are streets full of metal and cardboard shacks that thousands of Salvadorians call home.  There are thousands of communities like Milagro de Dios without running water or proper sanitation systems that dispel this myth that Marco speaks about.

Should the health of a nation be determined only by its economic stability?  Perhaps a better gauge for a nation's true health would be the instability of its impoverished people.  I wonder how differently we would see the world if all such myths were uncovered. Whatever it would say about our world, it should say even more to us as the people of God.  “How does the love of God abide in anyone who has this world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?”  1 John 3:17