Last week I rode a motorcycle for the first time, bouncing along the dirt roads that wrap around pastures and sugar cane fields and cinderblock houses where people swung low in their hammocks greeting the day. I was on my way to visit Gilma, the wife of the late Freddy, a CRIPDES staff member who was killed last year as an innocent victim of the senseless violence that plagues El Salvador.
I know few details about Freddy’s death; it is still fresh enough and the unanswered questions still hang in the air like a stale odor. I do know that as he was waiting for the bus one day when he was caught by a bullet fired by someone that had nothing to do with him. He left behind a wife and three children, and an overwhelming sense of shock at the senseless of his death and uncertainty about how to carry on.
But the thing about people who are organized is that the suffering of one is the suffering of all, and Freddy’s death was felt by all of CRIPDES and the communities he worked with. CRIPDES and other organizations/groups have worked together to support Gilma and the kids to overcome the shock of the sudden necessity of functioning as a one-parent family.
Thanks to funds given through Sister Cities, CRIPDES and CORDES have helped Gilma install a small fish pond in front of her house, an enclosed chicken coup, a new latrine, and they have helped her diversity and fortify her production of all sorts of fruits and veggies for consumption and for selling so she and her family can continue to survive.
But the thing that Gilma and Luis kept repeating over and over is that these projects don’t make life easier, they bring more work. That is something that not all recipients of projects are aware of, that things that are given bring with them a whole new workload. Gilma will now have 30 or so hens to take care of, fish to change the water for and feed and make sure they don’t overpopulate, more crops to keep up with and manage, not to mention the labor she puts in to building the projects themselves.
And maybe the immense increase in workload has been a help in itself for Gilma, who deals daily with the weight of grief. The business of maintaining these projects propels her forward, gives her something to hope for. She has an air of strength about her, from the force in her arms to the intensity of her eyes, and I know that this is one project that is given to the hands of someone who is more than capable.