La Serena and El Matazano

Tempus fugit. The only Latin phrase I know, but I think of it all the time. Time flies. And it’s true. Another week has just whizzed on by and left me in its dust shaking my head and wondering where it ran off to. Here’s what I can gather…

Keily and I spent the week interviewing in the communities of La Serena and El Matazano. La Serena is only a 15 minute hop-skip-and-jump away from the house here. Keily keeps asking why we can’t just walk like regular folks, but she humours me. El Matazano is quite a bit further away and apparently the road isn’t overly safe, so Susie and Mike were kind enough to shuttle us back and forth. We spent two days doing interviews in each of the communities and then ran the workshops this weekend. Neither of these places has a community centre and so one meeting was held in the street and the other under a mango tree.

And it was known forever and always as "the workshop shirt"

In El Matazano, the top needs reported by the community members in the workshop were…

A Bridge ~ The main access road into the community crosses a river and becomes extremely flooded and completely impassable in the rainy season.

Transportation~ There is no transportation system for the community and it’s a very significant walk to the nearest road to find a bus. This makes it difficult for folks to get to work and for kids to get to school.

School ~ There is no school in the community. The children have to leave San Jose Villanueva to go to a neighbouring municipality to attend school.

El Matazano workshop ~ ready to go!

In La Serena, located much closer to the town, the needs expressed were a bit different…

Housing ~ Housing conditions are poor and the majority of people do not have deeds to the land where they live, making any construction project nearly impossible.

Road Improvements ~ As in many parts of the municipality, the road in La Serena are in very poor condition and many are impassable in the rainy season.

Latrines ~ There is a desire for composting toilets to better address sanitation issues.

Home in La Serena

An extra bonus this week was the good part of Saturday afternoon that I spent meeting with a man who works here for Plan International. It was a fantastic opportunity to chat about the work their organization does, their projects in San Jose Villanueva, and how different development organizations can best communicate and collaborate here. On Thursday I’m going to head back to El Palomar with him to learn some more about Plan’s projects there.

On top of the research, there was plenty of extra good fun this week too. On Friday night, I ventured into the city for dinner with some friends at a great Spanish restaurant – paella, tapas and sangria – yum! And on Saturday night there was a dance in town and my lovely American roommates and I ventured over to take part in the festivities. We had a blast and fully enjoyed the talents of our dance partners as they whirled us around the dance floor with that natural rhythm of theirs!

This coming week, we’ll be interviewing in the community of Las Dispensas – a more urbanized area not too far from town. Also this week we’re going to be interviewing representatives from other NGOs active here and local leaders in the town centre – the priest and the director of the elementary school are booked in for tomorrow.

So that’s the week in a nutshell and the end of month #1 in El Salvador. Tempus sure does fugit!



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