Saturday, July 22, 2006

What Salvadoran bloggers are saying -- volunteer edition

Typically my bi-weekly posts concentrate on what native Salvadorans are writing in their blogs about their country. This time I will concentrate on the blogs of people volunteering their time in El Salvador.

A blogger who goes by the handle Jefferson, has started a blog to chronicle his time in El Salvador. Illustrating the post with his own photography, "Initiation to San Salvador Via 9" vividly captures street life in El Salvador. Here's a taste:

An old woman selling dried Yucca and Plantains in a bag enters the bus through the rear. She sells a bag of plantains to the man behind us, pouring salt and chile in the bag. She shakes the clear plastic bag, and hands it to the man. I gaze over Noah's shoulder, hoping to get a glimpse of the market place. Endless stations selling pirated movies. Overweight women, dressed in lacy aprons pushing wheelbarrows filled with tomatoes, mangoes, and apples. Big department store signs towering over tarps used as ceilings for the booths. Umbrellas everywhere. Dozens of colors, patterns, sizes protecting produce from the hungry rays of the sun. Telephone and electrical cables sprawl between the buildings high above the streets like a network of convoluted spider webs. The movement along the streets dances with the distant thumping of Reggaetone beats: "“boom. Dadada da. Dadada da. Boomboom Dadada da. Dadada da."”

Abby is volunteering her summer to work as an intern with Crispaz in El Salvador. The posts in her blog reflect her introduction to life in El Salvador, life with a Salvadoran family, and work with an institute promoting methods of organic farming. In her most recent post, she describes the benefits of organic agricultural techniques for a country like El Salvador.

Meg is a volunteer with Catholic Relief Services who lives in El Salvador works with migrants at an NGO called CARECEN International. She adds insightful posts every month or so about life and issues in El Salvador to her blog, A Different View of a Good Life.

Betsy Pike is spending June and July in El Salvador and published a blog titled Betsy's El Salvador Adventure. She describes a whole range of experiences and comments on El Salvador's culture, problems and blessings. One of her last posts includes:
Top 10 list of Salvadoran best qualities:

1. Friendly
2. Personable
3. Industrious
4. Helpful
5. Interpersonal
6. Giving
7. Kind, Sweet
8. Closeness -- Meaning, Kissing hello, more touching than I'’m used to.
9. Religious -- Mostly Roman Catholic and Evangelist
10. Laissez-faire with time


Several US Peace Corps volunteers write about their experiences in blogs. Laura is a Peace Corps volunteer in Apaneca, El Salvador, who describes experiences in her blog, Viva El Salvador. Armeda keeps a log of her Peace Corps activities in her travel blog.

Another Peace Corps volunteer writes under the name Scrutape. Recently he wrote in a post with admiration about the willingness and dedication of members of El Salvador's police forces to work in the most violent country in Latin America:
When you think about the urban police force here, they make very little, some, if not all, take on other forms of employment to make ends meet. Yet with the level of hostility and danger they are exposed to, one wonders how the government is able to retain so many different units of public regulation with bodies to fill these positions. Somehow, within all that has been going on in this country since the Conquest, the center has held. These men and women, rather than sitting at home waiting for a check from one of their family members from the States, rather than running to States themselves or flooding themselves in a fugue of drugs and excessive alcoholism have chosen, for whatever reason to stay and fight.

I realize now how every person fights their battles in the best way they know how. Some use a pen and others a sword and El Salvador has those that have tackled all available areas of injustice, with the bottom line being: many have chosen to stay and fight. With this combined effort, through the power of sheer will, maybe El Salvador will one day see the change it so richly deserves. El Salvador, literally, The Savior, it'’s ironic that a country plagued with a history of dictators, oligarchies, social stratification, massacres, oppression, civil war, desperation, PTSD, violent crime, maras, earthquakes and floods should be named as such. To draw an artistic license (inserting El Salvador rather than Mexico and inventing the rest) from a quote by former Mexican dictator, Porfirio Díaz, I think to myself, solely letting the words roll from my tongue: poor El Salvador, so far from God and so close to salvation.

Amy Zuniga is a recently ordained priest in the Episcopal / Anglican church who is working in El Salvador. Her blog, Updates from El Salvador, reflects the life of her ministry. This week she has pictures from the consecration of the newest Anglican bishop in Central America. Mark Tew is a Christian missionary from Canada who blogs at Mark316.com and often has insights from day to day life in the country.

Also posted on Global Voices.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Betsy Pike

Funny, Lawrence Harrison used a similar list of “virtues,” particularly 9 and 10, to explain Latin American poverty http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1568331479/sr=8-3/qid=1153872291/ref=pd_bbs_3/103-9147103-4411804?ie=UTF8. Of course, when used in a negative context, he was accused of racism. Let’s lay off the stereotypes please.