Latin America (Hub Location)
When we first arrived in El Salvador, though we were familiar with many of the issues of the country, similar to the other countries in the region, we were met with two particularities. The first was that the U.S. dollar was the currency of the country, and the second was the history associated with the martyrs of
the University of Central America.
Dollarization had completely changed the canvas of the Salvadoran society. The disparity between the rich and the poor made sections of El Salvador look like Beverly Hills, while just minutes away people were trying to live on less than a dollar a day.
This phenomenon contributes to the incredible complications associated with development work in the country; namely that poor people are in close proximity to excessive wealth and it creates a sense of hopelessness for that which seemingly cannot be obtained without Western assistance.
This problem sends their men and young men, who could bring assistance to rural communities, into the city to look for work. In addition, recent wars have left many men disabled and even more women widowed and children fatherless.
Creating new markets that totally localize and recirculate resources back into its infrastructure is a major challenge for any development worker(s) wanting to bring sustainable change.
Today, we have a few acres of land situated a couple hours outside of San Salvador, where we have been for the last few years. We have been cultivating relationships with our neighbors and modeling innovative, duplicable techniques for home construction and sanitation.
In fact, since our arrival, four other homes in the area have, of their own initiative, implemented the techniques we've introduced to create safer and healthier homes. We are also playing a paramount role in the local public school by improving their curriculum and providing resources for students and teachers.