I write this post from the safety and protection of my home. The words formed as I was tidying up, cleaning my bathroom, washing my dishes, reveling in the comfort of the actions of caring for my home. After visiting El Salvador, I know what a luxury it is, to have a bathroom to clean, clean water to wash my dishes, and nurture my body.
Home is a powerful place. It’s where our memories are formed; the moments celebrated. It’s where we prepare to show up in the world. Cuddle with our pets, partners, or children. Our safe nesting place to retreat when we need it. Protection from the elements and nature. At home we find the structure and security which helps us thrive in this world. If that place is challenged by poverty, displacement, or family circumstance, the potential to thrive is lessened in order to survive.
I was lucky to grow up in a safe and healthy home, in which we were encouraged to explore and create. We walked to school every morning without incident, and played with neighborhood friends in our tree house, or went to their pool when it was too hot. Outside was our playground, where we explored our neighborhood: the ivy that engulfed our backyard hill, the tree that grew on the edge of the property that held our tree house, where we played board games. The vacant lot at the top of our street. The side yard, which grew our garden. But the place that was just mine and my brother’s was the outdoor room at the top of the ivy covered hill. The ivy had grown gnarled and large in the corner, creating a natural structure that we could enter through a magical door that was our playhouse, our restaurant some days, or the turret of our castle others. Or some days, it served as a timed obstacle course, with the last step, running as fast as we could down the hill. I can remember so vividly that feeling of abandon and exhilaration, running down the hill full speed, with cowboy boots on, perfectly free.
The 2 block walk to school
The security of home is made even more important to me because I lost it. To put it simply, when my brother and I were teenagers, my father became ill and my mother wasn’t emotionally equipped to handle it, so we essentially lost both parents to their diseases and they quickly divorced. The home sold. My brother and I were left to figure things out for ourselves, and we did eventually, but it was not without years of heartbreak.
Our backyard, ivy covered hill and structure in the top left hand corner
That’s why I named our new product 735 Flora Vista - our address growing up in Santa Barbara. Our home on the mesa where I lived in a healthy, safe, and loving home with the freedom to explore. The situation in El Salvador is very unsafe for young women especially right now. In the area we visited, gangs run the village, taking money and women in exchange for life. And the refugee village of we are supporting has the least. Not only is it gang run, (we had to be escorted in by the pastor, and then were not allowed to leave the church property for our own safety) and poverty stricken, health is compromised by lack of clean water and health care services. The area where they gather their water is ½ mile down a steep hill, and is contaminated; so what water they do have access to also causes intestinal problems.
A typical washing area
An elaborate washing area with rainwater collection
After two years of negotiations, the government has finally agreed on a plan for this area so that they may have clean water in their homes. The community leader has worked tirelessly with the water department of El Salvador (Administration Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados or ANDA) to convince them to bring water to this small refugee village. I received the plan two months ago, and phase one states that we need $28,570.70 for the tank that will hold the water at the top of the hill.
With each sale of 735 Flora Vista, 25% will go directly to this community's church to help fund the $28K needed for step one to provide the village with water. It’s my goal to provide all of the funding. Once phase one is completed, which should take about 3 months to build, ANDA will build and provide the pipes to the homes for the water to make it into the 75 or so homes, to better and make more convenient the essential necessity of water that all people deserve. And to provide the children here with more so that they, too, can have that feeling of freedom as they run down the hill.