Have you ever considered not having a place to “go” – this is a reality for many people in the rural communities in El Salvador.
There are so many things that we in the States take for granted; clean and abundant water to drink, cook with, bathe in, wash clothes and even water our lawns. We all have bathrooms with flushing toilets and running water. In contrast, there are many people in the rural Cantons (villages) of Berlín that don’t even have an outhouse. Or if they do, it’s old and barely useable. You can see through the walls. The roof has holes in it (when it rains, you get wet). There may or may not be a door. If a family is lucky there is a raised seat to sit on; either plastic (which breaks quickly in the elements) or cement. Often there is only a portion of a broken seat.
And then there are families without any place to “go” – literally. They head out to the “back-40” to relieve themselves… such an unsanitary and undignified situation.
The Pastoral Team is keenly aware of the problem, both from their travels out into the cantons as well as from their own personal family situations. In 2013, they began asking the Partner Organizations if they could find a way to support a latrine project in their Partner Community. The plan: the community would make a list of the families needing a latrine and the Directiva (elected community leaders) would go door to door to verify the need. The Partner Organization would raise funds for the project. The Pastoral House would verify lists, investigate prices and then order and deliver the parts. The families would be responsible for installation, after which the Pastoral Team would follow up with the families to verify.
The parts consist of a cement base about 4’ x 4’ incorporating a raised cement seat. Families also receive 9 sheets of lamina (corrugated sheets of metal) for the walls and roof. These are 2-meters high and 1-meter wide. The families are expected to dig their own pit (4 meters minimum). Pit sides are reinforced with wood so they don’t cave in. Families also construct their own outhouse for privacy using the lamina. Some are able to buy actual lumber, but most use tree trunks/limbs with at least 4” in diameter for the framing. People can be very creative and are able to construct things effectively with minimal resources.
This has been an ongoing effort. After the initial surge of church support for their partner communities, the churches have continued to support any new family who move in, or the young people within their community who begin to create their own families!