Where do I begin?
This was my second trip to El Salvador and to the small mountain town of Talnique. Because I’d been there once before, I assumed that I was totally prepared and would somehow not be affected by the insane spectrum of emotions that I was last year. You know what they say about the word “assume” right? Yeah…
I wasn’t immune. Not even close.
Not from the pride I felt in the high school students from Keene who chose to spend their time over the past year working extremely hard to raise a ridiculous amount of money for this project only to spend their break from school toiling under the equatorial sun to build TEN homes. They were not only willing to endure the hard labor of the building process, but also consistently demonstrated the flexibility to tolerate issues like materials not being available when needed and frequent changes to plan and schedule. They managed it all with smiles and energy and an utter willingness to lend a hand in any way possible with unshakeable humor and empathy.
Not from the awe I felt at the people from Talnique who, in addition to the rigorous labor of daily life, hauled more water up from the river, showed us how to properly wield a pick-ax, and welcomed us into their community and homes with absolute openness. They tolerated our inability to speak their language with grace, humor, and patience and didn’t blink an eye as we swung their kids around in circles or upside down. They walked us through their stunning mountains and between coffee plants to share their hidden waterfall oasis and patiently waited with smiles as we huffed and puffed our way back out. They shared their pain and loss in a sick and dying child in the community and allowed us to share their tears as if we were a part of their family as well.
Not from the renewed sense of wonder at how significantly more alike than different we all are as humans despite language, culture, and circumstances. The love that is so innately part of our humanity and how it transcends any differences humbles me to my core. Mothers the world over share the same exasperation and adoration for their children. Children everywhere climb trees and give bunny ears and drag their siblings around and laugh easily at almost anything. Communities depend on one another and share their worries and their pride and work tirelessly to balance the needs of so many.
Nope. I wasn’t immune in the slightest.
I can’t share all of the images (thousands!!) until next month, but I can’t help but share a few shots of some of the hilarious children of Talnique…
Thank you so much, Keene Interact Club, for entrusting me to capture the amazing work you guys are doing- you are a truly phenomenal group and I am so ridiculously proud of every single one of you!!!!!!