Un Techo para mi País – El Salvador

This past weekend, I went to a town called Guadalupe to build houses for those who lost their homes when IDA hit El Salvador. It was an awesome experience!!

We, Peace Corps Volunteers, worked with an NGO “Un Techo para mi País.” This NGO mainly works in Latin American countries to build houses for people living in extreme poverty and people who get affected by natural disasters. A majority of volunteers is college students. They go to different parts of the country on weekends and vacations to do this volunteer work.

There were 10 groups of 5, 6 people and each ground built one house.; therefore, this weekend, we built 10 houses in total. These houses are made of wood and they are pre-assembled so we just had to put it together although the hardest part was to build the foundation.

We dig ground to put some wooden poles but we encountered was a ton of rocks. It took so long to dig out all the rocks. I got really worn out by doing it.

Digging out rocks from the ground

Digging out rocks from the ground

Then we put up some wooden poles.

Setting up poles

Setting up poles

We put up a floor and pegged it.

Pegging floor

Pegging floor

The walls were pre-fabricated so we just had to put them together, although it was not as easy as you might imagine.

Putting up walls

Putting up walls

We also put 2 windows and a door.

Getting close to complete

Getting close to complete

A commemorative photo with my team! It was pleasure working with you guys.

Team Charlie

Team Charlie

And this is a result of hard-working weekend!

Yeah...I didn't put sunscreen...

Yeah...I didn't put sunscreen...

It was great working with youth in El Salvador.

A lot of times, I work with kids (6-15 years old) or adults. So it was nice getting to know people of my age too. I really liked it so I might contact them and work with them again sometime.

月 28日日曜日。



実は前夜もご飯の後にやりました。これは家を作ってるグループ対抗で やるので、グループの団結を図るのが目的と思われる。
グループメンバーで一列になって座って、一番前の人の前に置いてある桶の水をスポンジに含ま せ、それを頭の上を通して後ろに回して行き、一番後ろの人がペットボトルに貯めていくというゲームで、制限時間内で一番多く水を貯めれたチームが勝ち。朝 からめっちゃ濡れましたw。

残りの壁を組み立て、天井部分にも木を組み、その上に屋 根をのせる。
シャ ワー浴びて、新しいTraineeに会い、コリー太、ダンディ、オスィートと再会し、戯れw、バスでサンサルへ。やっぱり俺ダンディが欲しい~笑。ダン ディ賢いし、俺のことわかってるし、いい番犬になりそうですw。

そして夕ご 飯に寿司!と思いきや、さちにゃむとも一緒に行った例の寿司屋が休み(TωT)
ちょっとすし飯が甘 すぎだったし、ネタもあまり新鮮じゃなかったけど、とりあえず満足(*´∀`*)
しかもAmirとGabbyが奢ってくれてなお満足 (*´∀`*)笑。
Percy Jackson and Olympians: The Lightning Thiefという映画でした。
参 照:http://news.walkerplus.com/2010/0223/16/
でもちょっと個人的にはいまいちやったもにゃ~(o`・ ω・´o)。
原作のコンセプトはいいんだけど、ちょっと映画化するに当たり、若干手抜いちゃったのかなw。あと俳優の演技がダメダメでしたw。若 いしまぁしょうがないとも思うけど。



A disastrous week

Landslide in San Vicente, El Salvador

As many people know, Hurricane Ida hit El Salvador recently. The city named Verapaz suffered greatly from the hurricane. Verapaz is located in the department (departments are equivalent of states in the U.S.) called San Vicente and that’s where we had our pre-service training 4 months ago. It rained like cats and dogs on Saturday, November 7th. Usually, during the rainy season in El Salvador, it rains at night but not during the day. But on Saturday, it had been raining since the morning. It was unusual after all.  I felt sick from the morning but went to our training classes anyways.

I ended up going to San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, to buy a yoga mat although my health condition didn’t improve at all. Unfortunately, a wall-mart-like store in San Salvador didn’t have what I wanted to buy. Well, it did have it but it was very expensive and came with unnecessary stuff. So…it was a completely wasteded trip to the capital. Rain continued and seemed like never stopped. I went home and went to sleep. I didn’t feel like eating so my host mom just gave me a platano sancuchado (boiled banana) and cafe. I took some medicine and continued sleeping until 2am.

Around 2am, my host family got up. I heard something like “the volcano in front of our house just erupted.”  I wasn’t sure what was going on at this moment but it became apparent on next morning. The volcano didn’t erupt; however, due to the heavy rain, a huge landslide occurred in the volcano. You can see how it was like in the photo above; all the dirt did not exist the day before. Many people passed away and lose their homes. Many fields have been destroyed and tons of crops, which are the main source of  income for rural Salvadorians, were lost. Fortunately, my host family lives up in a hill so we didn’t get affected directly by the landslide.

I got a phone call from the Peace Corps to make sure that I was safe. I was but I was sick too. But the Peace Corps seemed too busy to deal with my minor sickness. There are more than 170 Peace Corps volunteers and staff in El Salvador so they had to make sure that every was safe first.

Electricity was cut off the night before and so was water. I still didn’t feel well so I tried to sleep. Around noon, many people who have lost their homes started arriving at my host family’s house and the school nearby also became a refugee camp. My entire family went to the school to help out people. I also went there when I couldn’t sleep anymore. I ended up working there from 7pm till 11pm.

Next morning, the Peace Corps called me again and told that I had to evacuate to the office in the capital. Although I didn’t want to leave my family, I had no choice. I stayed in the capital for 2 nights. The training got canceled and rescheduled. Although many of us wanted to get involved in some type of relief work, it was difficult for security and logistical reasons. We just had an opportunity to work a little bit to sort cloth for relief aid in the capital.  I had to go back to my site for several days and the training has begun again on November 15th. Right now, I’m in training in Santa Ana and 3 more days to go. It’s been pretty crazy for the past several weeks. Nevertheless, I’m doing fine! Hope to update more about the training in a few days.

A street dog and rabies

I was walking my neighborhood on last Sunday, looking for tarjetas de saldo (telephone cards) for my prepaid cell phone.

A street dog came up to me (or more like started following me) barking at me so hard. I ignored and kept walking. It happened before too and I didn’t take it seriously. I mean, who can imagine getting bit by a street dog when you have done absolutely nothing wrong (I was just walking). But it did happen to me. The dog decided to attack me and bit my left leg!! I was surprised and couldn’t understand what just happened. Then, I got upset because this dog potentially had rabies.

I went back home and washed out my wound to remove saliva of the dog. Then, I started reading a Peace Corps medical handbook and apparently, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylexis is not provided. Being even more upset after reading this, I called a medical officer. She told me to come to the office the next morning so I went and got an injection of vaccine. I should be fine now but it was a scary experience. This was the first time that I got bitten by a dog too! Now I’m little scared of street dogs although I really want to have a puppy as my pet…

Peace Corps is full of new experiences and this is just one of them…

A box of love from home

I’ve been working with the school director to make some necessary documents for the school lately, and surprisingly I’ve been pretty busy! I didn’t know I can be busy here in El Salvador because it seems like everything is slow here. Especially coming from busy Tokyo and busy life as a grad student, I felt I was doing nothing here in the past two months. I still feel like I’m not doing much though I will get busy soon!

I actually have a second round of training from next week. In El Salvador, the Peace Corps decided to divide our training into two phases: PST1 in which we basically study Spanish and cultural stuff and PST2 where we actually get technical training. Starting from next week is PST2. I got some requests from someone from the mayor’s office that he wanted to learn how to make a tree nursery. Since this town is incredibly hot, we are hoping to plant a lot of trees to make more shades on streets. In doing so, a tree nursery would be a great resource to have. Vamos a ver (We will see ) what I can do.

So after working with the school director, I finally got to go to the center of Usulutan. I usually go there twice a week to check my mail box and do some grocery shopping. I went to the post office first, and I found out that I got a package from the US!!! My old roommate Lefteris has sent me a box of love…I’m so touched and encouraged. Thank you Lefteris again!! This will definitely keep me going no matter how hard it gets. As you can see in the picture, YES, I LOVE Japanese food!!

Japanese curry and noodle

Japanese curry and noodle

Beach, wrenched knee, fever etc…

Yay, my actual first post!

So I went to Playa El Espino yesterday with my friends. This is the second time I went to beach in El Salvador (first time being Playa El Tunco).

On our way to beach, we took a bus and when I got off, I wrenched my right knee. It’s my bad knee. I first sprained it when I was senior in college, playing basketball for intramural tournament. I did it for the second time after I got here when I was playing frisbee with kids in my training community. This time was not too bad as I was at least able to walk back home. Then, the third time was when I tried to get off the bus while bus was still moving. That was a stupid idea. Yes I admit. Then, next one is when I was playing soccer with kids in my community. But they play soccer on ground made of concrete. I knew I shouldn’t have played but I could not refuse to play because it was such a good way to get to know people in my community. Then this is what? fifth time? Damn, now I’m worried that it would never get better.

Anyways, the beach was really nice and tranquira. It’s less developed than Playa El Tunco and therefore it’s less crowded. Most people I saw yesterday were local. I would go this beach every weekend only if the access is a little better. There is not much bus going to the beach. And the last bus for Usulutan leaves around 4pm, meaning that if I take this bus, I would miss the last bus for my site from Usulutan. So it’s best if I stay there for a night and come back next morning.

After I got home last night, I felt really sick and I checked my temperature. It was 37.6℃ (sorry I grew up in Japan so I’m not familiar with °F but it’s like almost 100°F). Then, I realized a rather weird correlation between my bad knee and my temperature. As I thought about it, whenever I wrenched my right knee, I got sick afterward. And sometimes it’s not just fever but comes with stomachache and vomiting and all sorts of ugly symptoms. Fortunately, this time was just a fever. I took a medicine and took a good sleep and I already felt better this morning.

But now I should be really careful not to wrench my right knee because it would come with other sickness. I’ve been here in El Salvador for almost 4 months and I already got sick 3 times (or 4 times if this fever last night counts). I hope I won’t get sick anymore. I’m sick of being sick!


Playa El Espino in Usulutan