Supporting Progress: WOMEN

Climate change, government corruption, and economic turmoil are complex issues that require complex solutions. Such is the greater context in which we found the community of the Island of Tasajera, El Salvador back in 2009. The community of 1,846 inhabitants living under the poverty line have been on a steady decline becoming poorer over time.

In November 2013, we set out to understand the root of the situation and formed a Community Diagnose task force. This group, led by Salvadoran and psychology student Carlos Escalante and funded by EMANA, studied and surveyed the Tasajera community to understand 7 key aspects: History, Habitability, Economy, Education, Recreation, Governance & Participation, and Perception of their future. An initial goal of this study was also to locate areas of potential development, of which the lack of women’s involvement in all socio-economic spheres of Tasajera was a clear conclusion throughout the study.

Women,” as Carlos describes, “are hard working stay-at-home wives and mothers, they wake up early to get the ingredients and make food for their family, then stay busy with the cleaning of the house; a difficult task in their coastal & sandy environment.” “They complained that men are usually sleeping when they are not fishing,” Carlos continued, adding that “women have a lot of potential to assist in the development of their community“. This was not a problem 10 years ago, when fish stocks were abundant. Every time a husband would return from the ocean brought with him plenty of fish to sell and provided for the house and family. To this day, more often than not, fishermen return home empty handed and continue piling up dept.IMG_1517

Although environmental pollution is a major problem, fish decline is mostly attributed to the booming fish industry continually abuses their permits throughout the coast line since 2000. As the community has witnessed a steady decline of their economy and increasing poverty, Carlos advocates it is crucially important to empower women with an encouraging environment, “making sure they know they can contribute to the progress of their community.”

As described in our About page,

“…When we determine an imminent need, we design a development project that will satisfy such need.”

On July 7th, EMANA, under the direction of Carlos E., have partnered with the community of Tasajera to create a woman’s group called “EMANA Youth: women entrepreneurs” in which we will engage with 22 young women in a regular basis to develop business ideas and unlock their potential. At this point the project is about teaching them how to make hand-made jewelry and crafts that can be sold to tourist of neighboring regions and in the United States and the world.

I asked Carlos Escalante to share a little bit about his experience in Tasajera and the goals of the newly created Emana Youth initiative. This is what he wrote:

“Anyone visiting the island realizes the great needs of its people in terms of poverty and social exclusion. Through the information gathered in the Community Diagnosis, we were able to visualize and comprehend the nature of various issues affecting the community today. In this effort, not only we managed to describe the community present situation but the historical factors that have contributed to its occurrence. Also, we identified distinct psychological and social factors that are part of the effects of historical institutional neglect, natural disasters, and a vast of socio-economic issues that have affected the community. This factors include mistrust in interpersonal relationships, broken community sense, and gender issues. Aside from the serious effort of trying to understand and describe the community, we also managed to establish invaluable relations with lots the inhabitants; this being the best part of this experience.

EMANA Youth participants on a jewlery workshop
EMANA Youth participants on a jewlery workshop

 The Community Diagnosis of Tasajera Island has been a process that has allowed me and the ones involved to get closer to the people and their daily routines. Throughout this process we paid attention to a series of comments made by the local participants on their perception and expectation of their future. These comments revolve around the idea of eagerly expecting a ‘maquila‘ or a big industry to come in and provide jobs for everyone. These statements sum up the feelings of abandonment, scares opportunities, and lack of personal confidence from which we considered that youth should be our working priority.


EMANA Youth initiative was conceived in response to this situation. The initial concept was to organize a mixed group of men and women to gather and make a sustainable project for them to achieve alternative solutions to the issues affecting the community. This idea brought in practice some constraints, which made us narrow the focus of the group. We decide to focus on the most vulnerable ones in the community: women.  Most of the strongest community issues in Tasajera affect women the most, yet remain invisible to the outsider; such as domestic violence, early pregnancy, lack of recreational spaces and activities, limited life plan, etc.


This project has begun with an initial goal of granting a group of 22 women alternatives on recreation, economic growth, organization, and strengthening relationships.  We have taken the first steps by supporting them with materials and teaching how to make handmade jewelry as they think about business strategies in the region.  During the first part of each session we make use of games and interactive dynamics to strengthen ties within the group and work on issues such as teamwork, coexistence, and relationships. The income gathered from sold jewelry will be a motivational aspect to achieve maintenance and self-sustainability in the group. With this project we aim to give women new perspectives on their possibilities and organizational capacity to help them find better solutions for their daily reality.” – CARLOS ESCALANTE

Security and Development

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Seguridad

La isla Tasajera es uno de los lugares mas seguros de el mundo por la razón de que esta protegida por Dios en esta comunidad existen cuatro iglesias en las que muchas personas se reúnen cada tarde para adorar a Dios y una seguridad terrenal que la compone la policía nacional civil.

Por la comunidad de la isla Tasajera puedes ir sin temor que alguien te pueda agredir físicamente, que te pueda robar tus pertenencias prueba de ello es que algunos turistas que visitan la isla todos comentan que este lugar tiene una hermosa naturaleza que la componen un manglar , estero de Jaltepeque, el rio Lempa, la playa de la isla también un gran atractivo que es un vivero de tortugas y la seguridad que es algo de lo que se van muy encantados por que pueden caminar por toda la comunidad a cualquier hora ya sea en el dia o también por la noche algo que les hace sentirse mucho mas relajados y disfrutar mas su paseo.

Falta de Desarrollo

Esta comunidad cuenta con mucha naturaleza pero con escasos recursos para el desarrollo de la educación y la formación principalmente de los niños que es tan importante para su futuro. Esta formación muchas veces se ve cortada por la falta de recursos económicos ya que tienen que salir de la isla lo cual genera altos gastos de dinero y que la mayoría no tienen a consecuencia de esto dejan los estudios.

escrito por Jeremias Carmona

english

Security

Tasajera Island in El Salvador is one of the safest places on the world, because it is protected by God. This community houses four churches that many people attend to; they gather every evening to worship God. There is also a physical security force: Police.

You can go around the Tasajera community without fear of being mugged or being a victim at all, proof of this is that many tourists that come to the island comment that this place is beautiful in all its forms. The natural beauty of Tasajera is composed by giant mangroves, the Jaltepeque Bay, the River Lempa, and its beautiful virgin beach side. Tasajera also houses a turtle shelter, which is a main tourist attraction. Overall, safety is one thing people leave happy with, because they can walk through the community at any time of the day or night, which makes them feel more relaxed to enjoy their visit.

Lack of Development

This community is an amazing natural gem, but has very little resources to provide proper education to its inhabitants. Children are not being given the right formation; they are the future of Tasajera. Education standard is directly linked to the lack of economic resources, and leads people to leave the community in search of a better education opportunity. Yet, only a handful can afford this, so most children and young people decide to drop out of school.

written by Jeremias Carmona

Putting on The Roof

On Tuesday June 12th 4 of us took a trip to la isla tasajera ( Tasajera island) to build a protective structure for the hydroponics systems. Things were a little rough in the beginning because it was very difficult to get all of our supplies into our vehicle. Finally we got everything loaded and we were on our way. We arrived in the afternoon to the dock and were met by 2 people from the island who where going to help us with this project. Once we were on the island we unloaded all of our supplies and started talking about how we were going to build this protective structure.

This structure needed to be built to protect the plants growing in the hydroponic systems from the sun and rain. We Started the project by placing in the support posts while others of us fixed up the garden by supporting the tomato plants. Then once the support posts were in the ground we started on the roof. This was a little more challenging because we had to decide how we were going to get a slope to get the rain to drain off properly. Finally it was decided to just make the middle higher and having it drain off both sides.

Half the group worked on building the wood frame while the others took the time to unwind and cut the plastic into strips for the roof. Then by the time all of that was finished it was dark time so we decided to settle down and rest for the night. The next morning we got up early so we could to the beach and reward ourselves for the hard work we had accomplished the night before. We then came back to the work site because we had to accomplish the task of getting the plastic roof on.

We got the strips out and started placing them on the roof. Meanwhile 2 more people from the island joined us to help with the project. The first piece of plastic was cut to short and didn’t fit properly so we have to do a little rearranging of the plastic and finally we got the roof complete and our job there was done. We then had a little prayer session to thank God for allowing us to be there and help these people and for keeping us diligent in our work. We finished by saying our goodbyes and we were off back to San Salvador to plan and prepare for our next visit.