Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Remesa Phenomenon


So I have found a house to live in for the next two years! The concept of renting to people in the campo is difficult because they don’t understand non-conventional ways of making money and that of foreigners way of living. Let me give you a picture of what I have been through. I live in a remesa community, meaning that most people here have a relatives or multiple living in the States, Panama, and or Spain for the most part. What I mean by Remesa, remittances in English, money of some value, gets sent home, usually monthly. So that means I have found a house, whose owners live in San Francisco.

Remesas lack long term development. People who depend on that monthly money wire do not think about investing and or saving that money.

Remesas are resources from immigrants in the States, mostly monthly payments back to families.
Remesas are keeping this economy and all while people living in the states are sacrificing their well-being to help their families here in El Salvador. s

First the upside to Remesas. Folks with more money every month have more time than those who HAVE to be in the campo, working the fields (often not their own) for ten dollars a day. Women are likely to be more participatory in projects we, as Peace Corps volunteers, attempt to do. Remesas, more disposable incomes, means larger donations for things/projects/events (Sure am lucky to live in what’s called a “remesa community”). Those “Hermanos Lejanos” (Familiy in states, literally translating to far away brothers) can hook it up for projects, something that is benefiting their community of childhood. In fact, that perkI have already witnessed here in my community. A man, while visiting his dad and mom here contributed several hundred dollars to a fundraiser for the local city council. Remember, even the jobs that a lot of you would never consider doing STILL make more than ten dollars a day, some can make that in an hour. So essentially when those folks return home for a visit, they are ballers, literally.

The downside to Remesas: Remesas don’t give people motivation to get a job and or to better themselves. For people who do not have a loved one in the states, will travel hours to a job and the majority of people in the campo average out to ten dollars a day.

And another issue. Some peoples’ spouses and other family have been living in the states for significant periods of time, sometimes never given the opportunity to come home (you know that whole thing with being illegal).

There are approximately 5.7 million people living here in El Salvador, while an additional approximate 2 million Salvadorans have immigrated to the United States. While in training, we were informed in 2004, 70 percent of El Salvador’s economy were Remesas. A lot of the time, if you are able to work, you find a way to go to the states. Its not because this country sucks or anything, but the lack of jobs available. And we think we got it bad with our unemployment.

Productions comes before consumption in a developing country, thus chances of developing are slim, as they will never develop more than they produce.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alright, definitely time for an update!

So I moved to Guatemala. Well not really, but yeah basically. I live in a village that borders Guatemala and the river is what separates the two countries. I have had trouble with my internet, mainly because service goes in an out here because I am so close to Guatemala. Yesterday marked my third week in my site. Where I am now is where I will be living for the next two years! That's really overwhelming to think like that so I am going to divide my service up into tri-monthly quarters. So for the next three months, I am working on adjusting to my new community as well as doing a census to get to know the community a better. And it's awkward. How many cases of diarrhea have you had in the last two months? When was your last mammogram? Do you know anything HIV/AIDS? Etc. Etc. How much do you make in a month? How much do you receive in Remesas. All awkward questions, for me and them. I have 130 houses to do, so I work on that a bit every day. I am also just doing some diagnostics with different groups in the community to get a better needs assessment and priority rankings for potential projects for the next two years. But mainly it's just adjusting to be the new gringa in town. I am the second volunteer in my site, so they kind of have an idea about our weird behavior and our strange culture. For example, living on my own. That is so weird for them! So I think I will have some luck in being pro-active and make some headway in doing some projects. But we will see.

On another note, I know you all want to visit. I can officially have volunteers in July, but I hear November, December, and January are the best times to come. But naturally, whenever you all can come, let me know! I miss you guys.