El Salvador

El Salvador

Thursday, February 28, 2013

House #10

The story of House #10 is an inspiring one, and one that is very full! I say this because the family of House #10 is made up of a mother, 12 children, and 4 grandchildren!

Maria, the mother of the family, met her husband Juan 28 years ago at a harvest where they were both working. She remembers living through the civil war from when she was 12 to when she was 25. She remembers running and hiding under the beds whenever they heard gunshots.

Sadly Maria and Juan split a long time ago, and Juan left 9 years ago to go to another country to work, most likely Guatemala. He sends money occasionally, but not very often, which is especially scary, since she has always taken care of the children and never really had any work experience.

Surprisingly, when we asked her about the struggles she’s had since her husband left, we were surprised to hear her answer that she had had none! Her children, the oldest of whom would have been 19 when he left, had taken care of all of her needs and she felt completely free of struggle. This was one of the greatest moments of our experience at this house, hearing how a close family can push through struggles by relying on God and each other.

Of the family at House #10, 4 children and 1 grandchild are attending school; most of the older children had to drop out in order to work. One of the children in school is named William, and he is 17. He hopes to go to college and become a pediatrician because he loves kids. Louis Antonio, who at 24 is the oldest son of the family, wants to find a better job in order to further support the family. The family’s dream in general is to have more of their children going to school and learning to do better jobs.

All of the family are catholic, and when they can find a ride into town they will go to church, which is not often. Two of the daughters have children, although neither of them is married.

The names of all the children, in order of age, are Glenda Arrevalo, Iris Veronica, Louis Antonio, Olsbaldo Avisay, Erica Melissa, Jessalyn Leticia, William Bernavay, Jessica Elcarmen, Franklin Vladimir, Edith Bernice, Lenny Alex, and Ingrid Jahaida. The grandchildren, in order of age, are Arnaldo-adonai Arevalo, Daniella Jamileh, Adonai Andres and Anthony Olsbaldo.

by Erik Mohr and Jurgen Heinrichs

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

House #9

This house was built for Norma Arevalo. She is a 30 year old lady with two daughters; Emely Yamileth Arevalo, age 11 and Yenifer Elizabeth Arevalo, age 6.

Norma found out 3 years ago that she might get a house. She never gave up hope and praises God that her dreams are coming true. She expressed thanks to us for making this house possible.

Norma was the oldest child in her family and she was given a lot of chores on the family farm and in their house. Consequently, because of her work and because she didn’t like school, she only went to school until grade 4. Norma told us about once when she didn’t want to go to school she cut her hair off quite short in the hopes that her parents wouldn’t send her to school, however it didn’t work, they made her go to school. Now, she recognizes the value of learning and wants her daughters to continue with their education. They like school so it is not difficult to get them to go.

Norma was married; however, 6 years ago her husband went to the United States to earn extra money. He forgot about them and has not been back. She does talk to him once in a while but doesn’t know what he is doing or who he is with. (One of the reasons we build houses in El Salvador is so that men don`t feel like they have to go away to earn extra money to provide a house for their family.) Norma and her daughters have been living in her father’s house which is located beside her new house. She works in the fields and in the house in support of the family. They also buy used clothes and re-sell them as a way to earn money.

Norma is a hard working lady and she has dedicated her life to her daughters. She does have some days of sickness but she thanks God for her generally good health. She has pain in one of her fingers and in some of her joints. She is very thankful to God and us for providing a home of their own. She attends a Catholic church sometimes; getting to it is difficult. She gets together with others for bible studies. She has a strong faith that Jesus is alive and she recognizes Him as her Saviour and provider and sees this as the common bond that we all have. She said that we will stay in her heart and she feels attached to us.  Her whole family attends church and they regard themselves as Christians. She is content with what she has, even though it isn’t much; they have each other. You can see this in the smiles on their faces!

by Clark Hannah and Mark Townson

Thursday, February 7, 2013

House #8

When we first went to the home the family was staying at, we were invited to sit down. Santos stood beside his wife as she sat on the hammock and held the baby. It was clear we were all feeling a bit awkward; we were feeling awkward because we were about to ask them some personal questions without knowing them, and we wanted to communicate that we had great respect for them.

Our family was a beautiful gentle quiet family of 4. Santos Raye is the father and husband and he is 26. He grew up in San Felipe which is a village nearby. He works as a farmer in the fields. Vilma Marroquim is the mom and wife and she is 30. She was born and raised here. Santos and Vilma met in San Felipe and now live where their house was being built. They have a son William Adoni. He is a bright energetic handsome 6 year old boy with tons of personality. They also have a beautiful little girl named Angelica Navele. She was 6 months old at the time of our visit.

We asked Santos and Vilma what kind of dreams they had for their lives and the lives of their children. They both agreed that when the children became teenagers they would come and work in the fields with Santos. For now they are unable to send the children to school because they are poor. They also shared that there were some things about their lives that had been hard but they did not want to talk about them.

They are so happy to have this house built for them. It will change their lives. Vilma said that the old house was so bad, and they would get so wet when it rained. She said it was the same as not having a house.

They sometimes attend a catholic church when they can.

They want to say thanks to God and to us for the new house; we are like guides (angels).
We enjoyed spending time with them, and as time went on, we became more comfortable with each other as Melinda and I were able to share a little of our lives with them. We are so thankful for our wonderful translator Patricia who helped us get to know each other. We left feeling a closeness with our family and a realization that we are all the same. We were so blessed to get to know them!

By Nicole Vinson and Melinda Oosterhof