Overwhelmed, I stand in silence before the waist-high pile of rubble: bricks, chunks of cement and pebbles. A miasma of dust obscures the entire region like a pall. The taste of death lingers as I look upon the fallen wall that claimed the lives of 42 children barely 72 hours previously…children waiting outside the Escuela Santa Catalina on the last day of school. Children awaiting with eagerness a time of vacation.
The scene repeated itself throughout the city and surrounding locales. Children, dirty and barefoot, scavenged 2 X 4’ in anticipation of future rebuilding. Father’s pitched tents in the byways as mothers chased tankers bearing potable water, returning with the jugs balanced on their heads.
We set up our clinics in the street and a long queue formed as began the tedious process of debriding wounds and administering tetanus shots. At night—a few hours of sleep in that same school that still reeled under the weight of such massive loss.
On October 10, 1986, the country of El Salvador suffered a devastating earthquake. Already torn apart by civil war and the ensuing unrest and poverty, the people didn’t delay taking on the task of rebuilding.
I was asked by the religious community of which I was a member to lend my nursing skills to the recovery effort. I stayed at the School of Santa Catalina where the children had lost their lives—a school run by our sisters in that country. Nearby, we also ran a 900 bed facility for war orphans that was unfit for habitation. The military set up a tent city and guarded it, patrolling with their submachine guns. So many of these soldiers were just kids themselves.
As it is, today at dVerse, for Monday Haibun, guest blogger, thotpurge, asks us to write about a memorable journey. I could never forget this one—it so deeply affected me. I could write reams about it, but will make it brief. The pub opens its doors at 3:00 PM EST—please join us.
This is a YouTube Video in Spanish about Santa Catalina School.