On Monday we spent the morning working in the greenhouse with two of the women from Amiga, Sara and Irma. It was very tiring and made me appreciate their workload. We were cultivating the soil, laying out the irrigation pipes and we also picked around 100 cucumbers to be sold. We all really enjoyed working in the greenhouse despite it being really hot. 

On Tuesday we went to work in a bakery, called La Esperanza. Here we learnt how to make Salvadorian treats and cakes. It was really great to learn these skills and to work alongside local women. We all had lots of fun and were very pleased with the results of our baking as they were all really yummy! We also learnt about their aspirations for this year; their dream is to get a computer so they can do their accounts online and they also want some form of transport so that they can sell their baked goods in communities. Both of these will increase their revenue streams and it was encouraging to know they are looking forward. 

We went to Tacuba on Thursday, which is one of the places where we are working with Conjuve – The Council for Young People. We visited a man named Don Marcelino Galicia who is 103 years old. On the 17th of this month he will be 104, which is absolutely incredible. We had to drive out of Tucuba quite a way and over some hills to get near his house. We also had to walk for about 20 minutes to get to his house, which was a picturesque journey. He lives on his own so he has to get his own supplies. Twice a week he walks to Tacuba which takes him six hours, he gets his supplies and then has to walk six hours home carrying what he has bought. We were all astounded that he does this. 

We heard his account of the 1932 massacre as he was 22 years old when it occurred. Four members of his family survived out of 15 of them. Don Marcelino was in hiding for two months with his father and grandfather to avoid the military and the inevitable reality that they would get killed. They survived on whatever they could find – bananas from the trees and shrimps and crabs from the river nearby. It was incredible to hear his account of the events directly from him. We also got the privilege of hearing him play the indigenous recorder which he is quite famous for and has been asked to play numerous times in Tacuba.

We also visited two community radios just outside of Tacuba. The first one was called ‘La Voice De Mi Gente’ and was run by young people between 14-18 years. They air two shows every day each with a different theme. They were all so dedicated to the radio and many of them want to study broadcasting at university and go on to become journalists or broadcasters. We all got to participate in an interview live on air which was pretty cool, and the whole community heard us. 

Afterwards we went to visit another community radio called ‘Radio Mix Juvente’. This was made up of girls and boys aged between 7-13 years old. We were all amazed that such young people were operating radio shows. They were all so well presented and confident. Both radio shows are made by volunteers who simply partake because they enjoy the work. We were all very impressed by their maturity and aspirations for the radio. We are going to try and do as much as we can to help them achieve their goals. 

On our day off on Sunday we went to Izalco Volcano in the Cerroverde National Park. We had to go down 1,300 steps in the woods before we reached the bottom of the volcano. From there the only way was up. The land on the volcano was quite steep and there were volcanic rocks scattered around so it made it quite challenging to reach the top. Reaching the top was an inconceivable feeling and the views were breathtaking. We all took in the scenery whilst enjoying our lunch. A pretty amazing setting for a ham and cheese sandwich to be eaten in! 

About one hour after getting to the top we began to make the descent. It was quicker going down the volcano but it was still a challenge. Going back up the 1,300 steps was definitely the hardest and most tiring part. It seemed to go on forever but it was very satisfying reaching the starting point - despite the burning sensation in our thighs. That really was an amazing experience and is something we will never forget. We have had a very hectic week this week but have loved every minute of it, and we are looking forward to next week being full of challenging but exciting days too.

By ICS volunteer Tamara Short. Photo: Don Marcelino Galicia playing the recorder.

 For more from this ICS group in El Salvador please see Dave's blog