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El Salvador 2008: Day 10 – A Sobering Moment, and an Affirmation of our Work Here

On Monday May 19 we will be returning back to Massachusetts. Our flight will arrive into Logan airport after midnight tonight. We will continue to post additional photos from our trip over the next week, and post reflections and thoughts over the coming weeks and months.

Tom Riley succinctly summed up life in El Salvador when he commented that the margin between life and death, safety and tragedy is a mere sliver. We had a reminder of this past Friday morning.

While waiting at Santa Maria Virgen on Friday before starting our work project, three of us (Mark, Joan, Tim) were taking a walk through the neighborhood with a parish member, Alex. They were only a few hundred yards away from the church building when they saw two trucks stop, people step out, pull out guns and begin firing at each other. Everyone got back to the church building without harm, and Alex called the police. But it was a sobering reminder to us about the realities of life in El Salvador.

The street connecting to Santa Maria Virgen where we witnessed the shooting

When Larry Walton was rector of Santa Maria Virgen in the early 1990s, he led an effort to establish pre-schools here and in other urban poor neighborhoods in San Salvador. The start-up financing was provided by generous contributions from members of Saint Mary’s. When Peter Chase first visited El Salvador fourteen years ago, he thought that these schools would never survive without continued outside financing. He was wrong. Although five of them are no longer in existence, seven of them are and continue not only to exist but to thrive. Several have expanded beyond a just pre-school and offer classes from grades K to 8. Others have purchased their own buildings. Hearing this was a welcome affirmation of the value of the work we do here, helping provide hope and support in a place where there is often too little of both.

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