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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

513 As we celebrate Irene Bachelder we remember her love for the people of El Salvador

Day 513 Wednesday, August 13th, 2021

As we celebrate Irene Bachelder we remember her love for the people of El Salvador

As we celebrate Irene Bachelder we remember her love for the people of El Salvador.

Irene volunteered in El salvador

Irene and our 2005 Group

One of Irene's favorite people was Father Manuel Alas Casco, the parish priest from the tiny village of Sicahuite. We met Padre Manuel in 2002 on our first volunteer trip organized through Dan Lambert, head of the St. Leo's Peace and Social Justice Committee, and the Sonoma based Non-Profit Seeds of Learning. We learned a lot, worked hard and met the people returning from the war. Their school and church were destroyed during the war and Irene was instrumental in helping to rebuild these structures which were so valued by the community.

(Photo of the new church in Sicahuite funded by our group from St. Leo's)

Since that time we have stayed in close contact with Padre Manuel as he has moved through various assignments and parishes. He works constantly and has lots of ideas about improving the lives of his people. He distributes clean-burning stoves, has created a cottage industry of simple clay water purifiers and introduced fruits and vegetables into the communities in which he serves. Covid and Global Warming have been hard on the people in his parish. I recently received this letter from him:

Dear Friends: Thank you for your support.

My parish is located in the north of El Salvador on the border with Honduras. 75% of our people are peasants who work small plots of land called milpas. On the milpa they grow corn, beans and squash and I've introduced new plants and vegetables to supplement the diets of our people.

We have many mountains here and to reach the attention of the people, to pray with them and to celebrate Mass I walk mostly on foot. My people live from agriculture, some grow corn, others beans, tomatoes and there is a little livestock.

(Padre Manuel)

One of the biggest problems is that the inputs for the crops are expensive and the products when they are sold are bought cheap. We make our own compost, fertilizer from animal manure and spray insects with a repellant we make ourselves.

There is a lot of illiteracy and young people only study until the ninth grade. Others don't study at all because of the distance they would have to travel to school. There are very few university students.

Due to climate change, farmers are losing their crops and this generates more poverty.

There are not many remittances (money sent from Salvadorans in the U.S.)because few people emigrate to the United States, because there is no money to pay for the trip.

The good thing about it is the Lempa river and the mountains, we have a beautiful climate.

Future projects: building a School for children, also requesting the Ministry of Education for a remote high school license, a water project in some cantons and a forestation project with trees that produce fruits for sale, making agriculture more technical.

Citala has a population of approximately 5,500 people and the majority are young people and children.

in the parish we are working with the small Base communities to empower women and men with the good news.

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