Report from the Field: Working Encounters

We have arrived in El Salvador, and returned to our property to continue the work we started last summer, building the homes that we will soon occupy full-time. We will continue to work on the homes for the next 3 weeks, accomplishing as much as we are able.  The work on our future housing  here in Sitio Nuevo will continue after we return to the United States.  We recently hired three men from the local community who have been working with us during our time here, and will  continue to work on the homes  until November.

Although one of the workers we hired is young, he has been working in construction for the past 5 years.  He is only 21 years old, but he and his three siblings (the youngest of whom is 16 years old) have been surviving as a family absent of a mother or father.  Both parents live in the United States. They left their children in search of a more prosperous life.  Our friend has chosen to work hard in order to support himself and his siblings, rather than joining a street gang like many abandoned children do who find themselves in similar situations.

Broken families as a result of immigration to the United States is a significant issue in El Salvador.  In our short time here, we have encountered many families that lack one if not both parents.  Many look to the West as a source of escape from their difficult lives in their native country.  Often, it is the men who depart leaving behind wives, children, and extended families. Women are often left to fend for themselves, and it is common for grandparents to raise their grandchildren in the parent’s absence.

As we see these families, broken by the demands of culture, poverty, and circumstance, we know that the problem has many layers, and many sources.  Our hope is that as we move into maintaining long-term presence in the area, that we will be able to better understand the contributing issues, and begin to find practical alternatives to these practices.

Written by Michael Johnson