by Sister Cecilia Hudec
“Bienvenidas Hermanas de la Caridad! The love of God is demonstrated through your solidarity with us in friendship.” These words greeted Sisters Cecilia Hudec and Maureen Wild on January 25, 2022, as we drove into the community of Las Minas with people lining the road. “We desire that you feel at home among us.” As we greeted them on behalf of the Sisters and Associates, their joy and gratitude beamed on their faces. Two hundred and twenty-four families in three communities are recipients of this water project, including cattle, chickens, home gardens and crops. An elderly man in the community expressed the gratitude of the communities.
At 2pm, after sharing a delicious chicken soup, we gathered in the schoolyard under the shade of trees and tents to celebrate the Liturgy with Bishop Oswaldo Escobar, OCD, who thanked us and the other groups who have collaborated in the project. We were gifted with a beautiful clay water pot made from the clay of Las Minas.
The following day, we drove to La Palma at 1,000 metres above sea level using four-wheel-drive trucks. We were greeted by the mayor and members of the community in the hills where Solidar Suiza has determined that a well can be dug. The mayor was elected in the spring of last year and in August 2021 she and her council signed the agreement with SHARE El Salvador (our partner), Solidar Suiza, and the Director of the Water Committee, that she would take responsibility to have a well dug. She indicated that the funding is reserved for this part of the project and was informed by SHARE that funding for the water treatment, storage tanks and pipes, had been received two years ago. She indicated her desire to move ahead with the project. I believe it was important for her to meet us and realize the authenticity of the funding.
There was no organization in these communities when work was started two years ago. CCR personnel (the association of communities for the re-settlement of Chalatenango) have been meeting with them to help them elect a water committee which will take responsibility for the project under the direction of Solidar Suiza which offers the expertise of an engineer.
The women gather to learn about food security, medicinal plants and to support each other’s mental health. Personal hygiene and care of their children’s health and sanitation is a priority. The project does include some latrines so it was determined that work would begin on the latrines while the well is being dug.
The climate is excellent for growing coffee on the hills. Large scale coffee companies do not purchase coffee at fair trade. With greater organization and the support of CCR, they will begin to fight for their rights for a better price. The struggle of these communities was evident on their faces. Again, it was an elderly man who spoke as a voice for them, saying that the women are the ones who have suffered for such a long time because of the daily long walks on rough terrain to bring water to their homes. Close access to safe water will be a great gift to their lives. Thank you to all who have contributed to our water projects. You are the unknown angels in the lives of these communities.