Today was a rather sad day as little Nelson left us. He had been here since I arrived and I always got along very well with him. They sent him to a home run by the SOS Children’s Villages so that he can live together with his two sisters! He spent his last two days crying and wasn’t happy at all to leave. I gave him some small gifts, including colors the group from luxembourg brought. He was happy about these, but still sad that he had to leave. It was very hard for everyone here at the hogar. Children leave all the time, but you never get used to it, and its always sad to see them go, Don Carlos told me. Now that he is gone, we are left with only 15 kids, in a hogar that has space for more than 40! Why? you may ask yourself. Well because the ISNA, the governmental organization in charge of bringing us kids, has changed a few laws with which getting kids has become harder, and they don’t actually take the necessary steps to bring us kids. Rather complicated the whole thing, but I hope it will all go for a greater good.
This wasn’t the only thing that happened today. After lunch I left with Don Nelson, as Don Nestor is on vacation for the week, to bring the kids to school and buy some fruits at the local market. Don Nelson wanted to show me some fruits from here that I hadn’t tried yet, and this is not a place to say no; the fruits here in El Salvador are amazing!
On the way to the market we saw Emerson, one of the boys that ran away shortly after I arrived here at the hogar. He lives with his mother and 3 brothers in Santa Ana. Currently his mother is sending him (9 years old) and his older brother (12 years old) to collect money for the family. Here he was cleaning cars at a crossing. He told me that some days he makes up to 5$, and as his mother does not work this is all they get! 5$ a day for a family of 5?!
He didn’t want to talk to us and kept walking away when I tried to apporach him, because he thought we might take him back to the hogar or tell the ISNA where he is. His brother had full control over him, so Don Nelson assured him first that we wouldn’t do anything. When I asked why he left the hogar he told me that he didn’t like washing his clothes and all the work they made him do. A problem here in El Salvador is that the kids from the street don’t like the rules put upon them in these homes, even if these serve them for their futur and their personal development. They prefer the freedom they have on the streets, even if this life is harder. What they don’t understand is that this does not give them a futur, and that they will only have it worse as life goes on. Further more, working like he is in the streets makes him very vulnerable to the gangs. If someone joins a gang here in El Salvador, the only way to leave is death. It’s not only what the gang members say, but also what is shown in the papers to be the truth. Its something I really don’t wish for this kid!
(Let’s see if you can spot ‘it’ in the following picture. Some info: it’s a public park in the center of Santa Ana, with a police station right next to it…I just don’t grasp how things like this can be!)
Emerson told me that he was going to school, but I am not sure if I that is true because people have seen him at this crossing a few times before in the afternoons; when he should be going to school. Other then that he didn’t talk a lot, but I hope I marked him with what I told him, especialy about the first step to a better futur the hogar can be for him. What makes this worse is that only 2 blocks down is the main police station of Santa Ana, and the police doesn’t bother about two kids working here on the street. Also it’s ISNAs responsability to send us kids, and they most likely know about Emerson’s situation; but they don’t do anything about it!
After buying some delicious fruits on the market we met another boy who used to go to the hogar. Miguel, a problem child that hasn’t been able to set up his life. He was collecting cans when we met him, the only work he has, and the only one he can get. He only went to the hogar for 2 years (1999-2000), coming in and then leaving again on a regular basis. In the home he had problems with pega, glue, which he constantly sniffs and he came from the street so it was hard for him to adapt to the life from the hogar. Today he also smelled like glue, so it seems that this problem remains. It was shocking to see someone in such a state. He looked hungry, all skin and bones, so I bought him lunch. Even worse was leaving him, knowing that I couldn’t help him anymore.
We were joined by Suniga, Carlos and Brayan. The market itself was rather scary as everywhere I looked I saw graffiti’s from the mara 18 (xv3), who control this part of town. I would like to say so much more about the gangs here in the country and how they destroy this beautiful place and the people with it but I don’t want to risk any trouble, as I should remind you that this is the internet.
Overall a rather interesting day for me, and it all began at 3 in the morning. I had to wake up because I was attending an online conference with my University which took place at 12 local time, 4 a.m. my time. But I survived it! Before dinner the electricity went, and stayed out for about 3 hours. Since I arrived it has never been that bad the lack of electricity, but luckily at around 8 o’clock it was back, which also gave me the opportunity to write this.
Day 101 – Santa Ana