Yesterday we visited more APSIES projects focusing on gender and health development in two rural communities.
In a small town called Nueva Guadalupe we visited a women's group that does consciousness-raising about issues such as violence and gender roles, microcredit loans for women to start small businesses, and organizing seeds and land for the women to start community gardens. It was great to see how these women were cooperating and working collectively to improve their living conditions and become self-sufficient.
One of the most interesting experiences from this trip, that allowed us to get to know people on a more genuine level, was being shown the garden projects around town by the women, many accompanied by their children. They were proud to show us the products of their labour, which included a small crop of beans and tomatoes; even a small amount of food from the garden could make a significant difference to these families, because the cost of living in El Salvador is very high, considering the average annual income of $7,200 USD.
Our cameras were a great hit with the kids, who loved getting their pictures taken; after a brief introduction to the iPhone, they were off taking their own pictures of us, each other, and their community. It was interesting to see what things the kids decided to take pictures of, and I have some really amazing ones taken by Marta, a nine-year-old girl who has 12 siblings and told me she wants to be a math teacher when she is an adult. Her favourite pictures were of flowers and decorations in the cemetery left over from Day of the Dead celebrations. This experience really brought home the fact that people share so many of the same hopes, dreams, and characteristics, despite the vast geographic, cultural, and material differences that separate us.
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