Despite the political turmoil, ongoing environmental devastation, lack of opportunities and clean water scarcity, the frankness and openness with which Salvadorians talk about their lives and their past has impressed me greatly. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Santa Marta through the eyes of the community leaders. I thought deeply following one of the community leader’s comments about the village requiring a machine to sort rubbish (some future thought into a machine that can separate plastics from non-biodegradable material would be beneficial for the community). 

Perhaps the greatest quality that unifies Santa Martan’s is the unshakable desire to prosper. The decision for the vast majority of displaced people, due to the civil war, to return to Santa Marta in the early 1980s, should be admired. They were willing to return to a country run by a government that they feel tried to destroy all that they had and valued. They were willing to put their lives on the line for what was right and just. 

The fact the current municipal government seems unwilling to provide Santa Marta with financial support is disappointing. The community is still being labelled by some as ‘subversive’, decades on from the end of the civil war. I wonder how many other unreported villages and communities exist in El Salvador who are also ignored and unfairly branded. Can one ever forgive one’s government for such treatment?

Written by ICS volunteer Daniel Callaghan