International Ministries

Visiting San Martin: the aftermath of landslides

November 9, 2009 Journal
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Today I made a visit to the community of San Martin, located on the outskirts of San Salvador. San Martin is one of many communities devastated by landslides caused by the intense rain this past Saturday. 

In October I spent a week in the community, a glorified shantytown that appeared along the railroad tracks during the civil war. The community was leveled by the earthquake in 2001, and has been battered by gangs, violence, and extreme poverty.  Most families are subsistence farmers, growing corn and beans on the steep hillsides that form the inlets to Lake Ilopango. People were hopeful, farmers were just one month from a successful harvest, the community had managed to rebuild more than 90 homes since the 2001 quake.

Late Saturday night San Martin was transformed. Houses built on the steep hillsides and on the edges of precipices disappeared.  They simply don’t exist anymore. Several households were caught off guard and the families were buried in their homes or washed down the hillside. 100% of corn and bean crops, just one week short of harvest, were washed away. Temporary plastic, tin, and bamboo pole structures are being built to house families on the soccer field.

In spite of the catastrophe, the community is working together to secure drinking water, and is pressuring the government to follow through on its promise to relocate those who are without homes or in precarious locations. A few organizations have come to see the damage; little to no aid has arrived in the community.

San Martin is just one of many communities affected.  13 communities working the Baptist Federation of El Salvador report deaths, damaged or lost homes, or lost crops. Please keep this country, the communities affected, and the Federation team working to respond quickly to the most urgent needs in prayer. Later we’ll begin to coordinate rebuilding efforts and search for long-term food resources.

If you are interested in making a contribution to support immediate relief efforts and long term rebuilding, gifts can be given through One Great Hour of Sharing, American Baptist Churches. Checks can be made payable to “One Great Hour of Sharing” with OGHS- El Salvador Relief on the memo line. Send gifts to:
One Great Hour of Sharing
Attention:  World Relief Officer
P.O. Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482