One determined soul

The following is a translation of a letter a young woman sent to a the congregation a sister church in the US. In her words, a tremendous amount is communicated about life in El Salvador. (Names have been removed to respect the privacy of the woman and her family).

Receive a cordial and sincere greeting to all members of the church.

I am writing to you in order to tell you a little about my life. On April 22, I turned 22. I am the youngest of 7. I have 4 sisters, three have already gotten married. Of my two brothers, one has married and one is still single. He is the one that visited you. He tells me that you have a very beautiful church which has many people with good hearts.

Actually I live with my father, mother, a nephew and my sister who is 23. My mother is a homemaker and my father is a farmer and sometimes I help him with his corn.

Thanks to god I have achieved many things, one of which is to be able to study. I like to participate and help others. From 2000-2006, I was the president of the youth of the community. I had to let go of that because of my other responsibilities but I still participate in the important activities.

In March of this year, I was elected to be a member of the community council. I am also the coordinator of the children’s group. Where the children get together once a month where we give talks on important subjects to educate and teach them.

My mother never misses church. I go as well, but she goes more because sometimes I have activities that conflict with it. Sometimes I also have homework since the weekends are so short. I need to take advantage of every opportunity to do work on a computer. Sometimes my cousin loans me a computer which saves me the $6-15 I must pay to do it in the university since I don’t have one.

I am studying for a law degree for a career as a lawyer. Sometimes it is difficult but I like it and I learn many things I didn’t know. Sometimes people actually ask for my advice in some of their personal situations.

El Salvador is very beautiful but never sees positive changes in social, economic and political terms. Instead, things seem to get worse. In my university the tuition has gone up. Last month, I paid $53 per month and now I pay $63 and I have to buy books and legal dictionaries that are expensive. I have applied for jobs in order to help me a little more because transportation has gone up. But up to now I haven’t found a job. It seems that there is some prejudice against youth because many youth haven’t been able to find jobs.

I feel bad when I hear the president say that things are going well. They are violating our human rights given to us by the constitution for every citizen.

I would like to say more but some day I will talk to you and tell you more. I don’t have photos to send you of my university studies because I don’t have a camera.

Take care and again, many thanks. You are always in my heart and prayers. May God bless you.


El-Visitador said…
I sympathize with the young woman's plight, but I wonder if she is acquiring the knowledge and thought processes required to be a good lawyer.

She complains that tuition and transportation have gone up... and somehow jumps straight into they are violating our human rights given to us by the constitution. It appears that Constitutional Law is not her forte at this time.

I wonder what History and Comparative Development Economics she is taking, since there are never any positive social, economic or political changes. And this in a country that has increased its per capita income by 40% in constant dollars since 1989.

Is there «prejudice against youth because many youth haven’t been able to find jobs» or are there simply very few jobs available? Could it be that there are few jobs because this is a country that discourages factories, discourages the power plants and roads that factories require, and is -generally speaking- afraid of all industry? (including, of course, the extractive industries which are the foundation of development elsewhere from Chile to Canada and from Brazil to Russia).

I wish the young lady the best, but if I were her academic advisor, I would emphasize coursework in Economics, Business Law, Logic, History, and I would go very light on Victimology 101.
Anonymous said…
At least one of your specific criticisms is unfair: the juxtaposition of bus fares and constitutional rights may be read to mean that Con Law is not her forte, or it could be read to mean that her writing & organization are not strong (and that she is actually talking about two different things).

As to your general criticism, I think that the young woman has as a pretty respectable hold on the facts for a poor, 22 year-old Salvadoran, and I am wont to believe that a poor, 22 year-old Salvadoran has got some mean odds against them, so I for one don't blame the young lady for lamenting her lot. Is victimhood the way out of her situation? Of course not, but it seems to me she's got a lot on the ball to be commended for and in the greater scheme of things, and a little sense of righteous resentment can be an empowering thing to help her own her situation.
Bosque said…
Just because a Country's per capita income has 'reportedly' increased 40% does not mean in reality income is any good, particularly if the price of goods rises or persons such as the young lady can not find work.

What was reported on this blog a while ago? A guy (supporting a family of 4) was making all of 3 dollars a day? ... up from 1.75? The job situation must be great in El Sal, that's why so many are here in the US looking for work, es verdad?

You have to realize those statistics also include the big wage earners and the poorest added together, then multiplied. Yes, the top wage earners (millionaires, govt, etc) have made better money with the trade agreements.

The income gap is highly disproportionate. The same goes for Chile.

As for the Constitutional stuff, El Sal has a rotten record on human rights, maybe that was a side thought in her letter. Youth with no employment contribute to the gang problem and the highest murder rate in the world. She does mention the social situation not getting better but worse.

I wish her the best of luck down there. I hope she does well and succeeds in her endeavors.
Anonymous said…
"Actually I live with my father, mother, a nephew and my sister who is 23."

My guess would be that this is translated from "Actualmente vivo con mi padre...", "I currently live with my father..."
Anonymous said…
stats for per capita income are useless without supporting information regarding equality of income distribution