SAVE WATER/GIVE LIFE 2019 EL SALVADOR SCHOLARSHIP TRIP
SSC Human Resources Manager Peggy Cruse and Scholarship Recipient Joyce Garcia
Since 2016 SSC and Weathermatic have had a ongoing partnership upgrading the irrigation systems on many of the A&M system campuses. Through this partnership an annual service trip has been created offering 6 scholarships to students at various campuses to travel with Living Water International to Central America and help bring clean drinking water to areas with great need.
The 2019 scholarship recipients were Farid Abarca, Cindy Figueroa, and Aneida Valdez of Texas A&M University, Joyce Garza, Marina Garza and Leslie Izaguirre of Texas A&M International University. As a continuation of the story from our July 21-27 El Salvador trip, we are including a reflection shared by Texas A&M International scholarship recipient SSC Human Resources Manager Peggy Cruse and Scholarship Recipient Joyce Garcia.
“On July 21st, I, along with 9 others, traveled to El Salvador in hopes of giving a local community access to clean water. I knew that my work there would leave a big impact on the community members, however, I had no idea how much of an impact the community members would have on me. What I experienced and felt was much more than I could have ever anticipated. The emotional impact they left on me is something I will always remember and cherish for the rest of my life. I highly enjoyed teaching the hygiene classes to the children and the rest of the community members. It was fun doing class activities with people of all ages. I especially loved being able to play games with all of them after the lessons. Now, drilling the well, while not an easy task, was very rewarding. With our assistance, the hard-working men of the organization were able to hit water in the week we were there. The day we hit water, the children started chanting two simple words I will never forget, “¡Agua limpia!, ¡Agua limpia!” This translates to “Clean water! Clean water!” The look of pure excitement and joy in their voices after seeing water spout out of the ground shook my very soul. I was just as excited as they were. Additionally, I went with the intention of getting to know more about the people and their culture. I wanted to experience the similarities and differences between their culture and my own. All I knew about El Salvador was that the area and the people were highly dangerous. However, I refused to believe that all the people from El Salvador were bad. Going with these expectations, I was not disappointed. Since I can speak Spanish, I was able to communicate and bond with the children and other community members. We were able to talk with one another about our families, interests, goals and dreams, and so much more. What I learned from talking with everyone was that our lives aren’t so different.
Despite living in vastly different economic situations, their way of life was eerily similar to my own. The day I volunteered to repair pumps, two of my groups members and I left to a second location. In this location we met with the mayor of the area. There was a moment where he had asked us if their living conditions was shocking to us since we aren’t used to living that sort of life. To his surprise we all said no. The man who had accompanied us during the repairs told the mayor that despite our different nationalities we are all Latinos, so we know the struggle. We all agreed with him wholeheartedly.
As I have stated before, despite living in the United States, we were all very similar. The way the community members looked after one another, bonded with each other, communicated with one another, and overall cared for each other reminded me of my home life and childhood.
Lastly, I want to say that the last day of our stay was more emotional than I had anticipated. Saying goodbye to all the new friends I had made and all the lives we helped improve was extremely hard. Even though we knew that we may never speak to each other again, we each left a piece of us behind for them to remember us by while simultaneously giving us memories we will never forget. “