domingo, 21 de noviembre de 2010

Where the Hibiscus Blooms

Bendición de Dios. God’s Blessing. If only I had thought to ask Mauricio, this community’s young leader, why they decided on this name. At one time, this place made have seemed like a blessing—a place for thirty poor, rural families to finally put down roots, to have something of their own, to give stability and a sense of belonging to their children. But from an outsider’s perspective, it seems that this community has seen nothing but the opposite of blessings since coming to this land.

In the middle of the night on Sunday, September 26th, torrential rains due to Hurricane Matthew caused the two rivers that surround this little community to flood. One women tells of lifting her three-month old baby over her head, arms fully extended, as she struggled to keep her own head over water. Others tell of scrambling onto their shaky roofs in the pitch black night by light of cheap cell phone, watching the waters rush by.

These humble homes—shacks by any other name, pieced together with found and collected bits of corrugated tin, wood, thick, heavy sticks, cardboard, mud, plastic tarp—are constructed on packed dirt, and interiors of homes and the narrow roads that run through the community turn immediately to mud in heavy rain. Disease, manifested by mosquitoes and white mold that grows everywhere in the dampness, accompanied by threats of continued rains and further flooding that keep coastal El Salvador on orange alert, force the community out. There is no formal shelter nearby, and so, as so many other Salvadoran communities do in times of crisis, the community seeks refugee in the nearest primary school.