Creating a conscious community: River Clean Up

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

While there are so many beautiful places in El Salvador to visit and showcase to the world, there is a stark contrast that is the reality to a majority of Salvadorans. Many Salvadorans are struggling with poverty, social insecurity, lack of education and resources, just to name a few.

I promised I would showcase the good, the bad, and the ugly but lately, I have just been showcasing the beautiful landscapes and places my country has to offer. Today I want to take some time to talk about the real El Salvador.

I am living in a hacienda; this particular Hacienda has a long and complicated history that I will discuss in another blog post. Long story short, it is private land, but the inhabitants own the land they live in.

In the Hacienda, there is a river that flows through the community. Growing up, I remember my friends and I would go down to the river and be there for hours. Two years ago I visited with my best friend, and the river was completely dry.

The River in the Hacienda in 2019

The owner of the Hacienda uses the river to water his sugar cane plantation, and in doing so, he was one of the many factors that led to the river drying up. These are things the newspaper does not write about, and other media outlets also turn a blind eye. Although you won’t find an article, the people who live here and are affected by it can tell you in detail how their source of living is depleted by the greedy and wealthy Hacienda owners.

Now that I have got that off my chest, the river has slowly begun to flow again this year. Since my arrival, I have gone down with my friends for old time’s sake and to admire its beauty and all the life the river brings into my community.

That was when I noticed how members of my community do not care for this precious body of water as much as they should. They constantly liter and burn their trash alongside the river. Sometimes they block the water from flowing, and the water begins to smell.

After my birthday and my stay in mizata, I was truly inspired by Josh’s work and his ties with the community. Eager to do the same, I asked my close friends and family to help me. We decided to form a small group of 6 people and set the date- May 1st.

In preparation, I began to research how we could properly dispose of the garbage. I was disappointed but not surprised when I realized there aren’t garbage disposals in El Salvador for small and rural communities.

So we had to do what we could and dig some holes and set what we could on fire while taking the plastic and collecting it until we can take it into the city.

To help incentivize and build a stronger sense of community, I met with my group of friends, and we came up with a design and slogan. It uses our countries slang and a call to action. My friend @Rychieboi designed the art, and as always, he made my vision come to life. (you can purchase the shirt to help us in future clean-ups)

I will show you all the difference in the sector we managed to clean; it’s disheartening seeing old tires, chip bags, water bags, styrofoam, and detergent and bleach bags everywhere.

I think that there are many issues my community faces, one is not knowing any better, and secondly, it is not caring enough to learn.

Even though I cannot create a larger impact or more awareness right now- teaching my friends and the youth that joined the importance of keeping the river clean and hearing them say “it’s for our benefit too” is already enough. To know that these other five community members are already thinking differently and are conscious is a huge start. Stay tuned for our second clean-up and more stories about my community.

For now- No seas dundo y cuida el mundo