Breaking Barriers – El Salvador
The time I’ve spent in El Salvador thus far is by far from what I originally expected – in a good way. Never would I have thought I would be so emotional or eye opening. Working in Ahuachapán has been a truly memorable and invaluable experience. I’ve spent this week building a house for Gladis, her husband, Rodrigo, and their son, Luis. I learned the other day that when Rodrigo got the bricks to build his house from Habitat for Humanity, he slept outside with the bricks because he was so happy he would have a new home. This story alone literally touches my heart. Additionally, yesterday I learned that Ana, a girl who always passed by to retrieve water from the pipeline, has a son who is 10 years old. Ana is only 20 years old and was abused when she was younger. Both she and her son have psychological problems. These people have gone through so much, yet they continue their days with smiles and greetings.
Today was my last day building and sadly, it was the day I actually started talking to the Masons (builders) and the family more. Despite only understanding half of the things they said, I enjoyed working alongside them. They were all so nice and appreciative of our help. They worked all day with few or no breaks. Yet, they were always cheerful and greeted me with a smile every time I saw them.
It took me a while to finally stop asking what time it was and to stop complaining about how sore my back or arms were. I realize none of this really matters because the small pain is worth the greater cause. My experience here is invaluable. It makes me stop and reflect upon my own life. Learning more about El Salvador has also been very insightful. The median income here is $229, which would be “barely making it.” Education can be as low as $1 a month and still, people may not be able to afford it. Less than 2% of El Salvadorians go to college. It’s unbelievable what I’ve learned this year about this small country.
On a brighter note, working with Babson classmates on this trip has been amazing. I am so happy that our entire group gets along really well and joke around so much. I know we will bring back many insider jokes to Babson as well as our memorable experiences. We all have unique take-aways from this experience that have altered our perspective of the world. I myself, realize exactly how fortunate I am to be given the opportunities and to live the life I live today. We don’t choose the structures we are born into. All we can really do is give back what we can to make the world a better place.