Posts tagged ‘El Salvador’

24th of December in San Salvador

Salvadorean people are strict Christians and their most important date in their calendar is Christmas Eve. They celebrate the Birth of baby Jesus. They live this day quite similar to American  people: meeting the whole family and sharing together.

This is how 24th December was:

5:30

Wake up! Don´t ask me why we get up so early, I don´t understand it yet.

6:30

We killed 2 hens, we plucked them and quartered them, with all the preparation they need.

Captura de pantalla 2012-12-25 a la(s) 19.39.14

8:00

Go to the bank to withdraw the present our brothers & sisters that live in USA has made us in form of remittances. Long queue and slow employees. We wait for an hour.

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9:30

Go to the market with mami Valentina to buy the last things me need to prepare the dinner. It is crazy how busy was the market!

Captura de pantalla 2012-12-25 a la(s) 19.41.11

11:00

Come back home alone because I lost my mami in the market. We continue preparing the hens.

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12:30

We eat eggs with frijoles.

15:00

My sister Marcia prepares Honduran Torrejas and sanwiches.

Captura de pantalla 2012-12-25 a la(s) 20.11.19

17:00

Everything is ready. Lets prepare and stay with friends and family around the area.

19:00

Papa Chente, mami Valentina, hermana Marcia and me have dinner together. The menu is roast chicken  with thin corn Salvadorean pancakes and pineapple juice.

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21:00

Family members begin to arrive. We talk, dance, laugh, chat, hug…altogether!

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22:00

We go to buy fireworks and start exploding them.

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24:00

We hug every single relative and friend, we wish them merry Christmas and continue exploding fireworks!

Captura de pantalla 2012-12-25 a la(s) 20.02.31

3:00

We go to bed after good dances of Cumbia, bachata (my favourite one) merengue, salsa…I get lost with dance names and I don´t distinguish them very well.

Captura de pantalla 2012-12-25 a la(s) 20.14.24

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Merry Christmas and happy 2013!

31 December 2012 at 10:00

The magic encounter of all Kiva loan participants in El Salvador.

Few days ago, an American couple that collaborate with Kiva translating loans sent me an email. The team of volunteers they belong to is one of the most important pieces in Kiva (there are nearly 400 volunteers around the world). They make possible all loans, no matter where they come from, are accessible in English.

This couple not only translate loans but also lend money to entrepreneurs through Kiva, especially to El Salvador.  Few years ago, they lived for two years in a little Salvadorean village working as volunteers. When they went back to the USA, they did not want to lose contact with this region and they were looking forward to keep helping in the distance. This is how they found in Kiva the best way to do it. They told me translating loans is easy to combine with their current jobs and you control how much you can do.

They told me they would stay for a week in El Salvador visiting some friends they left in the past and they asked me if it was possible to visit any of the borrowers they translated or invested in. The idea of an encounter between borrower and lender captivated me, and we started to work on it. (Not as easy as it may look: transport, communication and logistics is a different story in deep El Salvador).

After some steps we managed to make the challenge of putting borrowers, Mr and Mrs Luehm, and lender, Mrs Delfina, together. It was one of the best moments I have had in El Salvador. Seeing the encounter among these people and the conversation they had was wonderful.

Photo taken by Carlos, credit advisor from Padecomsm, on 23rd December 2011, when Mrs Delfina asked for a loan.

Photo taken on 22nd November 2012. The encounteer.

Nowadays, with initiatives like Kiva ´s, it is not possible to say either “ I want to help , but I don´t know how nor who” or “I dont want to help because I don´t know where my money goes to and the impact it creates”.

In Kiva, you can find more than 2400 stories and pictures of people/families in need, from every sector and from more than 60 countries. Every euro you lend through Kiva reaches the person you choose, and because it is a loan, not a donation, it bets on the sustainability of the project and consequently his life.

Your small amount, 25 dollars, it´s a lot for them.

Kiva, loans that change lives…

…And brings people´s lives together.

Here are all participants in the process of a Kiva loan: Borrower (Mrs Delfina in the center),Microfinance organization, Padecomsms (Rubidia, Kiva Coordinatos,  and Carlos, credit advisor, in the left) and Kiva (represented by KF19 Juan).

Thanks Lehm couple and Padecomsm for this magic encounter!

2 December 2012 at 09:00 1 comment

Rebuscándose in El Salvador. An obstacle race.

There is a famous song that defines Salvadoreans as people that eat everything, enjoy everything and do everything. I have checked these lyrics are right. There is a word usually used for referring to Salvadoreans, this is “rebuscados”. If someone is “rebuscado” it means he does the impossible to achieve what he needs: paying back a loan, help a relative or feed his family. As they say, they can even sell rocks to find a way to survive.

Like many countries in the American continent, poverty affects great part of the population and a job is extremely difficult to find. This is why many people decide to be entrepreneurs, because the only opportunities they find are the ones they create.

But even if they want to start a small business it is extremely difficult to do it. Most of the people don´t have enough money to begin and they have no access to banks. These institutions normally require having a job, presenting an electricity bill, having properties to set as guarantees, etc and the majority of these humble people do not satisfy these requirements. And even if they do, the high interest rates they have to pay makes the business unprofitable. The other day one woman told me she had a one-year loan with a well-known bank and she had to pay back the same amount of interests and capital. Crazy.

One more thing Salvadorean entrepreneurs face are maras, or also known in the USA as gangs. It is the cancer of El Salvador. They are groups of young people (10 years to 30) that control the areas where they live. They oblige businesses to pay a rent, arguing that they will protect them from other people. If they don’t pay the amount, they can end badly.

There are several options:

1. Paying the rent.

2. Not paying, close the business and move to another area.

3.Not paying and continue with the business. If they do this, there will probably be a death in their family.

And this is real live in El Salvador. Yesterday we were visiting a client that had one of the most successful businesses in “Puerto del Triunfo”. Gangs required her to pay a rent that was higher than the amount of the loan she received few months ago. She paid what she could (the same amount as the loan,1000$) , but this was not enough for the gangs. Her son started to receive serious threats to kill him. She had no option. She closed the business and moved to a different area. Now she and her family hardly live with a small pupusas business.

Not easy the life they have and the risks they face. But despite all these difficulties, they continue fighting for their families and dreaming in a better future. Thanks to organisations like Fundación Campo, Padecomsm and Apoyo Integral that collaborate with Kiva, they receive those opportunities they were looking for.

These are loans that change lives.

16 November 2012 at 07:35

EL Salvador, a country devoted to Football

After the first days in EL Salvador it looked like if I had never left Spain. Every single newspaper I read, there were FC Barcelona or Real Madrid at the front page. I did not know at all the fever salvadoran people had about football and especially about Spanish soccer. Wherever you look to, you can see Barça´s or Real Madrid´s colours and emblems: in every mean of transport, t-shirts, houses, boats…

     

Wherever I say I am from Spain, people ask me, before I can say a word, which team I support. I always answer the same. Ni Barça ni Madrid, Athletic de Bilbao! And some of them have started to change team. Here is the biggest supporter, Ever!

And this fever gets to the point that if Real Madrid and Barcelona play together people stop working and go to see the match. And this rivalry between these two teams has become dangerous. Tension is very high among supporters and quite often there are fights and quarrels that end badly. This is why police presence is reinforced whenever they play together. It is very strange to see them behave this way for something happening thousand of miles away from this small country.

                           

However, there is a time when these two supporters come together forgetting any differences. It is when “La Selecta”, the national team. plays. This is definitely one of the biggest moment for Salvadorans. The country stops and the blue and white paints the country.

By the time La Selecta was playing the qualification round for the world cup against Costa Rica I was collaborating with Fundación Campo, a very special MFI.  Its management has achieved to share with their employees strong values and they have established a true reliance relationship with their employees.  One of the many activities they do to reinforce teamwork is going to San Salvador to support La Selecta.

As one more member of the team I went with them to support the national team against Costa Rica. The winner of the match would be classified to the World cup. After a 3 hours journey we arrived to San Salvador and we straightly entered to the stadium in order to take a good seat.

When I asked about the starting time of the match I got astonished. There were 4 hours and a half left, it was starting at 19:30! Soon I understood why we did this. First, two hours before the match began, the stadium was nearly full. And second because it was vibrant to warm up the match with the supporters. In the 4 hours and a half waiting, they did not stop singing, dancing, doing the wave and many more. It was an extraordinary experience seeing the unconditional support of the fans.

Unfortunately La Selecta was not at the same level as its fans and it was beaten by Costa Rica, losing any chance to qualify for the world cup. But as H. W. Arnold said, “ the worst defeat a person can have is when he loses his enthusiasm”. And this never happens to Salvadoran people. They are passionated people that get up again and again despite the difficulties they meet on the way. Sharing this experience with my colleages of Fundación Campo made me understand them better and consolidate myself as a member of their team.

As good Salvadorans, on the way back to San Miguel we started to dream again about seeing La Selecta playing a world cup…

1 November 2012 at 08:00

Prehistoric Drawings and Four Intertwined Client Visits

An intense trip thought the rural mountains of eastern El Salvador made us think about the importance of family unity through the clay and string and flour that intertwine these 4 stories.

The day began with a visit to a cave which has prehistoric drawings that date back thousands of years. Our attention was drawn to several of the figures which were of couples holding hands. We didn’t think much of it then, but that image stayed with us as the day unfolded.

One client visit was to a young woman who weaves hammocks. She invited us in to her house: a tiny shack made of wood, bamboo, cane, and tin with a dirt floor and walls covered with newspaper. Inside was barely room for a bed, a finished hammock and one being made. She uses loans from PADECOMSM to buy materials to make hammocks, improve her house and pay off her small lot all by herself – in tears, she told us that she had recently become a single mother. Her six year-old son recently suffered a facial paralysis when his father left.

Continue Reading 9 July 2011 at 10:56 5 comments

Walking the Streets

Walking in San Salvador is the stuff nightmares are made of, but not for the reasons you might think.

You have probably heard about the dangers of walking the streets in big cities in Latin America: you’ll be pick-pocketed, purse-snatched, robbed at gunpoint, sequestered, murdered… Those are real threats, but I’d like to discuss a few others that don’t get as much headline space. Here is my list of Less-known Dangers of Walking the Streets of San Salvador.

1) Razorwire is everywhere, often at eyelevel. Frequently it is accompanied by electric wire.

Continue Reading 3 July 2011 at 14:22 3 comments

A Consumer, not a Recipient

By Brandon Vaughan, KF12, El Salvador

There is a lot of debate in the world of international development about the role, both positive and negative, that multinational corporations play in developing countries.

Continue Reading 28 August 2010 at 08:00 4 comments

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