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Problems in El Salvador

We have been living in El Salvador for almost two years now and have learned so much about the problems this country faces. There is so much hope and possibility here! It makes us really happy that we took a leap and moved here. There has been amazing growth and progress in the short time we have been here, but many major issues still remain.

Poverty is hard to escape from here. The minimum wage got increased last year to $370/month. That is for a six-day workweek! In rural areas like the town we live in, there isn’t a lot of opportunity for high-paying jobs. Women often set up a little table outside of their homes to start a food business but the prices are so low that I have no idea how they actually make a profit. You can get 16 freshly made corn tortillas for $1. People here are willing to work hard and put in long hours but don’t have the knowledge to help them build more successful career paths. Less than 50% of the population graduates from the 6th grade.

The interesting thing is that there isn’t a lot of homelessness here as people will just set up a shack of metal sheets for walls and a few palm fronds for a roof but these are not truly homes as we think of them. They have no running water or electricity and in a country that is 90 degrees, 365 days a year - I honestly can’t imagine what it is like to not even have a fan.

Another major problem we have found is pollution. Many rural towns do not have any trash system set up so trash ends up in the rivers and feeds into the lakes and ocean. The rainy season is from May to October here and it becomes extremely hard to keep up with all the trash that washes up on our beach every day once the rivers are rapidly flowing. We not only have a trash problem here but we get over 000 tons of garbage a year from the river flowing from Guatemala to here.

The photo below is of a lake Cerron Grande here after a massive rainfall that caused a huge trash pile up from the river (Rio Lampa) that feeds into it! This took months to clean up and caused fishermen to be out of work and a major food source eliminated.

As you can see, poverty and pollution are pretty major issues here! We recently learned of a local situation that put a fire under our butts to start looking for ways to help make a positive impact as quickly as possible.

Our neighbors down the road is a single mom with a 6, 11, and 15-year-old. They are living without electricity, plumbing, or water in a shack where the roof leaks and there is no income to provide food for any of them. The 11-year-old boy is knocking on doors trying to find work any way he can.

We immediately started to brainstorm solutions on how we can help but found out that this living situation is fairly common here and nobody really considers it a big deal. Well, that was eye opening! This being a normal situation is not okay and we need to help our neighbors have a better quality of life. My brain shifted gears to how to provide a better solution for the community instead of just one family.

I have been interested in earthbag homes and sustainable living for a very long time so I immediately started to think of how we could build homes as cheaply as possible. As I did some research on earthbag building in Central America, I came across an organization in Guatemala that has built an entire school and community center from the trash. They use rubber tires, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and glass bottles to build in a sustainable way that helps clean up the trash issue in Guatemala and helps solve their community problems as well. Wow! I was so excited. We can solve two major issues at the same time?! Sign me up!!

So, I actually applied to their building school that is only offered twice a year and it is coming up in July. I want to bring green building to El Salvador this year. I am still trying to gain clarity on the full vision but I think it will open up a world of possibilities. Spending a month with Long Way Home Guatemala will help me see what is possible. I’m hoping the collective there will help me fine-tune my vision so that we can develop a formula for success here. We need to buy a piece of land to start our first project on and it will be a communal living project that we can build multiple homes on. It will be a labor of love and I am so excited to get started!

If you would like to donate to help with this project, you can do so through my nonprofit, Blessed are the Flexible. If you would like to be a part of this in any way from brainstorming to coming here to volunteer, please let me know! All donations will be going towards the purchase of our land until further notice.


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