Home > We made history!! **looooong entry!!!

We made history!! **looooong entry!!!

April 24th, 2007 at 12:54 am

These past two weeks were crazy, but it was worth it!...we had our First Northe rn Zo ne Tour last Wednesday...

To oversee the completion of the compact signed between the Milenium Challenge Corporation and the government of ES, a board of directors, consisting of 4 cabinet members, 2 NGO representatives and 1 private sector representatives was chosen at the beginning of the year...

We helped organize a committee to go to the NZ of the country, where the aid will be concentrated, as this is a "poverty belt"...well,let me tell you, it was EPIC!!!.... we set out at 5:30am, a caravan of 14 vehicles, carrying 60 people....including the ambassador....

So, here I was, little old me, with all these prominent people, whom I see on the news everyday: the minister of education, the minister and viceminister of public works, the minister and vice minister of agriculture, the deputy technical secretary to the presidency, the managing director for our organization, people from the private sector, the ngo representatives, the newly elected executive director and deputy executive director in charge of actually complying with the compact, the coordinator and several members of the National Development Committee...10 drivers,2 translators and some of us "lower level" people from 3 different press, so that the attendees could concentrate on actually hearing what the people were saying instead of on what they were going to say to the press!...this was WORK!, not a publicity thing!

It took us 3 hours to get to our first stop, where the group met with mayors on the advisory council, members of a coffee cooperative, cattle farmers and members of a group of municipalities involved in water preservation...

We had a VERY tight schedule, but, the people at the towns we went were VERY organized and managed to stay on track with the time!...

After that first meeting, we left to visit a National Education Institute in a small village 21 kms you have an idea of how bad the roads are there (about $200K for road construction), it took us 45 minutes to get there!!!...We were greeted by the school children, who were waving flags... it was very touching...

Here, the meeting was to hear the expectations and plans of the students, parents and teachers at this little village....the parents said they expected that the educational component of the compact would allow all their children to study and complete their high school education, and, who knows, maybe even go to the university some day...The representative of the private sector asked what they thought were the reasons for the high migration rates this village has and, the parents told her the lack of jobs...being honest, even if you graduate, what then, if thereīs really nothing there, no stores, no factories...and, the land is really inhospitable there!...

It was amazing to me to see something so desolate in my country...I would have imagine this was pure forests and, instead, I saw some cows that were kept together only by their hides....trees that twisted in the dry, hot air, like lost souls out of Danteīs and there you would see a tiny house made out of tin or cardboard.... and, here and there you would see Mansions (yes, capital M, houses as luxurious as the ones you see in the capital city, only larger!)...these are the homes of the families that receive remittances from the US...I mst say, I understand the lure to migrate...even for those in the mansions....If I had one of those mansions in THAT place, itīd want out....not necessarily to the US, but, at least to the next town!!!! ...but, for those in the tiny shacks....well, just think what they must feel...the difference is really EXTREME!!....

After about an hour and a half of more bad roads, we reached the Lempa river....our ancient Father river...even in dry season, we needed to board the ferry to cross (the compact also includes building a bridge over it) was a beautiful spectacle....once all 14 cars were across, we went to yet another town, for yet another meeting, this time with the cattle farmer cooperative, who also explained the opportunities they see with the new road, and with the productive development component of the compact....we had lunch there, organized by the mayors of all these towns we had visited...local river shrimp (they looked more like tiny lobster than shrimp) and hen....quite tasty...

Then back in the cars for the last meeting in a small city, this time on paved roads, but, they were so narrow and full of curves, the cars couldnīt really go much faster than they had on the dirt roads!...

At the last town, the meeting was with the business sector, especifically transport and small commerce representatives...

by this time, it was 4:30pm and, you can imagine how tired everyone was!!!...we left the small city at 6:00pm, back to our capital city....we took a different route this time, and it took only 1 hour and a half to get back home (we COULD have taken this route, but, the whole idea was for this people to actually SEE what the people in the NZ have to live every day and how urgent it is to do something for them and how much of an impact our work will make in their lives)...

Everyone was tired when we left, but, all the people in the caravan where very pleased with the tour and very glad they had joined the tour...could you believe very few of the attendees (me included!) had never visited that part of the country? (where the heaviest fighting was during the war) and, we even had one person who had never actually left the capital city!!!

I donīt have enough time to polish this entry, because Ale wants to play, and it really is a shame, for I know I cannot begin to convey the sense of historic momentum that this trip left in all of us!

I will tell you more about the new job some other time, but, for now, this is the most important thing and, I really wanted to write about it before the feeling goes away!! (and, honestly, I hope it never does, because I feel like Iīm really part of something much greater than myself at the moment!)

7 Responses to “We made history!! **looooong entry!!!”

  1. Frayed Buckeye Card Says:

    I can feel the passion in your writing. It is an important event for everyone.

  2. LuckyRobin Says:

    What an adventure your new job has become. You get to see a part of your country that needs change and get to help be the catalyst for that change. What an awesome responsibility your government has, it will be wonderful for you to see it carried through, I think.

  3. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    That seems like so much in one day! Did you visit towns in Chalatenango province? I'm a little familiar with the Millenium Challenge grant. I'm curious what the cattle farmers had to say about the new road to be built, how it could benefit them, what concerns they had about it. Was there any talk about the gold mining coming into the north? That seems really scary to me. I've seen an area in the USA that was mined to extract molecular amounts of gold using cyanic acid. It became the most horrifc and vast scar I have ever seen on Earth. Nothing would grow there. The sterile soil was ugly, hideous, gullied from erosion with no plants to hold it. I hope El Salvador can avoid such a horrific thing. I don't think it even provides many jobs, as it is so profoundly mechanized.

  4. lieweheksie Says:

    your new job sounds wonderful- I remember stories about ES filtering through in the 80's - both our countries have come a long way and it sems we both have similiar issues now the conflict is over- poverty, schooling, jobs- we also have crime but its also linked to the first 3 - enjoy your new job- sounds like you can be a part of the difference team

  5. debtfreeme Says:

    it sounds amazing! Can't wait to hear more!

  6. monkeymama Says:

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. miclason Says:

    it was a long day, but itīs the 1st NZ Tour...we still need to do at least 2 more, including Chalatenango.
    The cattle farmers, from what I saw, were more concerned about the productive development part, but, the road will help them have better access to other markets...Right now, Iīm just starting to understand what this is all about! lol!...but, yeah, itīs an adventure!!

    No mention of the mines!...thereīs a very strong campaign against it here...but on the day we went, nobody mentioned it...however, there WAS so much talk about protecting the water supplies, I really donīt think the mayors will give this any support!...they are more enthusiastic about bringing tourism to the area...I`d say the mining would keep tourists away, so...

    There were other things I found out during the trip, mostly related to myself and the new job, but Iīll post a separate entry for that...

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